Milwaukee sheriff speaks out against mayor and police chief on gun violence

In recent months, Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett and police chief Edward Flynn have challenged and criticized state leaders, specifically Governor Scott Walker, while addressing Wisconsin gun violence.  They claim “urban prejudice” because shootings have increased since a 2011 law was passed permitting gun owners to carry without concealing.  American Thinker interviewed Milwaukee County sherriff David Clarke regarding his opinion.

The mayor and police chief stated their position: “This community has to face the reality that the gun laws that this state has put forward over the last few years, as proud as it makes the governor and legislature feel, has resulted in more guns on the streets in the City of Milwaukee.”  Clarke contends that this is a “political hit job by the entire Wisconsin Democrats, a political smear.  They neglect to consider that the violence has been going on for quite some time.”

He wants people to consider that the mayor has been in office for ten years, while the police chief has held the job for six years.  The sheriff believes that these two should look inward, considering that during their tenure the causes for possible violence has increased: poverty has worsened, the Milwaukee School System has received an F grade, Milwaukee’s unemployment rate is 32%, and crime is also at a high level.  In fact, the latest statistics show a 100% spike in murders in Milwaukee compared with a year ago.

Clarke noted, “I am not afraid of a law-abiding citizen with a gun; I’m afraid of the criminal with a gun and soft-on-crime prosecutors and judges.  There is zero evidence that concealed carry permits have led to an increase in guns on the streets.  There are 250,000 concealed carry license holders in Wisconsin, and only one was convicted of using the gun in a homicide, and they did not even live in Milwaukee.”

Even more astonishing is that as these two speak of violence, they have decided to furlough every police officer even though there are over two hundred vacancies.  Sheriff Clarke told American Thinker, “By that move, Barrett and Flynn have abandoned both the officers on the street who are drowning in calls for service and the residents of the city as they deal with crime and violence.  I believe in empowering Milwaukee residents who see personal safety as an individual responsibility.  The real problem is the weak criminal justice system, where a guy can do armed robbery and only gets two years.”

Clarke’s solution is to enforce the existing laws and to make sure that the young are empowered.  “We need to hammer someone for possessing a gun illegally.  But that is not enough, since we also have to change the subculture.  For example, Barrett opposes the voucher program of free choice even though the school systems are weak.  It’s like he is standing in the school house door, like George Wallace did all those years ago, to prevent a child from achieving their potential.  It appears that politics trumps good public policy.  We are basically forcing a parent to send their child to a failing school, which contributes to the crime and violence.”

Clarke, a registered Democrat, is disgusted that it is politics as usual because the mayor will never sit down and try to compromise with the Republicans.  He pointed out, “No other county in the state is experiencing violence similar to Milwaukee’s.  Otherwise, you would see the crime more evenly distributed throughout the state.  This rhetoric just creates more hurdles for gun owners than for the criminals.”

It is obvious that the sheriff is trying to make a difference in his state and county.  He speaks out because he wants to see public policy and the public perception change.  Instead of just doing the talk and pouring money into a failed system, he wants viable solutions and alternatives.  When asked if he would ever run for public office, he told American Thinker, “I will never say never, but I enjoy just being a cop.”

The author writes for American Thinker.  She has done book reviews and author interviews and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.