Clarke’s comments shouldn’t be controversial: Citizens have right to defend themselves

By Paul E. Bucher

Recently, a great deal of attention has focused on Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke for speaking the truth. We have the typical hand-wringers and naysayers, such as Mayor Barrett and others, who are afraid to face the truth. This issue is not directed at 911 or the competency of the 911 operators, who are dedicated, competent professionals.

This concerns the inadequacy of the staffing of law enforcement and the violent tendency of individuals in today's world to cause harm or death to otherwise law-abiding citizens. This also concerns the Wisconsin Constitution and the U.S. Constitution, which allows individuals in this country to be armed as a means to protect themselves, if they so choose.

Sheriff Clarke never uttered the words, "Shoot first and ask questions later." I find it insulting that Mayor Barrett can make statements that I can only assume he believed were humorous in nature. Sheriff Clarke is a dedicated law enforcement professional who I had the privilege to work with for many years. He is honest and has the integrity to speak his mind. Any individual has the right to disagree with Sheriff Clarke. However, any individual elected to protect the citizens of Milwaukee County and who has the integrity to step forward and speak the truth is truly dedicated to the citizens he protects.

Criticizing and demeaning Sheriff Clarke is nothing more than child's play.

Sheriff Clarke never instructed the citizens of Milwaukee County to run out and buy guns. He simply stated that we need to look at alternative solutions for protection. I believe this issue goes even further than his message.

The government has very limited functions. Its No. 1 purpose is to protect the citizens. Unfortunately, that job has not been performed very well in the city and county of Milwaukee.

This is not a slam on law enforcement; it is simply a stark reality. Encouraging individuals to seek safe alternative ways to defend themselves and encouraging them to seek instruction to ensure they have the knowledge needed to do it safely is, in fact, the responsibility of the government. The government should partner with law-abiding citizens, rather than simply burying its head in the sand. I am sure many of the talking heads will do just that when editorials are published concerning this hotly debated issue.

I do not agree, nor have I ever agreed, with every action and statement of Sheriff Clarke. However, he has the guts and courage to step forward and speak his mind. This issue is not about gun control. It is not about vigilantism. Those types of accusations are absurd and insulting. It is about taking personal responsibility for your own safety when the government is unable to protect you because of inadequate resources.

I was a prosecutor for 28 years and have now been a defense attorney for a number of years. I represent many firearm owners, and I have represented homeowners who found it necessary to use deadly force against intruders who invaded their home and threatened their lives. If any of these individuals had waited for 911 to respond, it is very possible that no client would have survived to seek representation.

Individuals who wish to be armed need to be responsible. They need to enroll in safety courses, and need to learn how to handle a firearm and make quick and responsible decisions if faced with a life-and-death situation. Further, homeowners need to review their insurance policies to ensure they have adequate protection, should the unthinkable occur.

The criticism tossed at Sheriff Clarke is unwarranted, but predictable.

Certain individuals simply do not like the messenger, rather than the message itself. The talking heads are just that.

They speak without really thinking through what the message concerns. It is about time we take responsibility for our own safety, rather than sitting back and expecting government to handle 100 percent of the responsibility. It simply does not have the resources necessary to accomplish that feat.

I applaud Sheriff Clarke for his bold statements and the manner in which he delivered his message. To the whiners and hand-wringers: Don't worry about defending yourself. Simply sit back and wait for the violent offender to take out his rage on you with the weapon of his choice. I will gladly defend any individual who has rightfully utilized deadly force to protect his family. I have refused to prosecute individuals who have rightfully used deadly force to protect their family.

Sheriff Clarke's message concerns the responsible use of firearms and the need to protect yourself and your family.

What is wrong with his message? Nothing, unless you choose to twist the meaning of his message, which has been done by many of the talking heads and the media, and will likely continue to be done as this controversy continues.

(Paul E. Bucher is the former district attorney of Waukesha County.)

Sheriff Clarke's message concerns the responsible use of firearms and the need to protect yourself and your family.

What is wrong with his message?

(Originally posted in Waukesha Freeman 02/06/2013, Page A06)