Gun control controversy continues in MKE

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Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke continued his public argument with Police Chief Ed Flynn and Mayor Tom Barrett Monday when he released a statement challenging Flynn and others to be tougher on gun incidents in the city.

Clarke’s latest statement addressed the increase in crime during this past weekend and how he believes the data to be overshadowing the real issue in Milwaukee. MPD released statistics that showed murders in the first 90 days of the year going down from 19 in 2012 to 17 in 2013. Clarke believes these statistics have distracted the media from the real crime at hand.

“Less than 72 hours after the local media fell once again for the statistical hocus-pocus to mask the truth about violence in Milwaukee, eight people were shot over the weekend and two more were found murdered this morning,” Clarke’s statement said. “It reads like what is happening in Chicago.”

Clarke said firearms are not necessarily the issue, but rather the sentencing of those who illegally use guns.

“Stop blaming the tool that is illegally used to shoot people,” the statement said. “I challenge Chief Flynn, Mayor Barrett, County Executive Abele and Judge Kremers to call for sending anyone convicted of a crime using a gun to prison – not county jail, not stayed sentences, not probation, not community sanctions, not deferred prosecutions, not electronic monitoring. Then, and only then, will we see a reduction in gun violence.”

Richard Zevitz, associate professor of criminology, said that Clarke is defending the District of Columbia v. Heller ruling of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, which ruled that people have the right to protect themselves with a firearm in their homes, unconnected with the military.

“I think David Clarke is saying what Scalia is saying in the case,” Zevitz said. “A person has a Second Amendment right to protect his home. Clarke is not advocating for people to carry around guns in public.”

Flynn and Barrett have said firearms are the issue. They also said Clarke does not usually deal with crimes surrounding firearms, but rather MPD does. Before a Senate subcommittee in February, Flynn said Clarke has little importance on the issue of firearms in Milwaukee.

“While David A. Clarke, Jr. is certainly entertaining on these important topics, he hasn’t proven relevant to a serious discussion of the issues,” Flynn said to the committee. “The data continues to show that no one has more to say about law enforcement in Milwaukee County and less to actually do with it than Sheriff Clarke.”

Last week, Clarke backed an effort by the National Rifle Association to arm certain employees in schools with firearms. He also endorsed placing law enforcement officers in schools.

Barrett and Clarke went head to head on Piers Morgan Tonight in late January. The mayor said that because the sheriff did not have the jurisdiction over this issue, it was misleading to the citizens living in Milwaukee.

“To have a sheriff that is basically going imply that it is not going to help you to call 911, I think is irresponsible,” Barrett said.

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