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Annie, get your gun! You’re gonna need it

By   /   March 6, 2013  /   News  /   8 Comments

Part 1 of 6 in the series On Your Own
UNDER FIRE: Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke drew flak for a public service announcement urging residents to defend themselves. (AP photo)

UNDER FIRE: Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke drew flak for a public service announcement urging residents to defend themselves. (AP photo)


By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON – Conservative activist and all-around muckraker James O’Keefe’s latest hidden-camera video draws inspiration from Milwaukee County’s controversial sheriff, amid the national battle over guns.

O’Keefe’s Project Veritas on Wednesday is releasing, “On Your Own” (with accompanying Twitter hash tag #OnYourOwn through his usual mass social network distribution), an undercover video that hammers home O’Keefe’s thesis: Citizens under threat are left vulnerable until police arrive. And, as several New York area officers on the video attest, response times could be anything but rapid.

Police offer plenty of advice to the video’s inquisitor, an unidentified man who claims to be 63. They suggest he should lock himself into a bedroom, scream, or get a Rottweiler, to protect himself in the absence of law enforcement.

Some officers suggest the man should consider applying for a handgun permit, a process than can take as long as eight months in New York City.

“So basically … I’m on my own?” the man repeatedly asks police. The answer, on several occasions, is “yes.”

That’s the same point Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke was trying to make in a public service announcement earlier this year, a message that became a heated conversation on talk shows nationwide and made Clarke a conservative darling. In the PSA, Clarke advises Milwaukee County residents to think about protecting themselves because, Clarke claims, budget cutbacks have significantly cut into his department’s response times.

“Consider taking a certified safety course in handling a firearm so you can defend yourself until we get there. You have a duty to protect yourself and your family. We’re partners now. Can I count on you?” Clarke says in the radio spot.

O’Keefe’s “On Your Own” video pulls the quote from Clarke and includes a clip from CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight, in which the host, a gun-control zealot in the eyes of many conservatives, takes aim at the sheriff during a segment with Clarke and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a vocal advocate of expanded gun-control laws.

“To have a sheriff basically imply it’s not going to help you to call 911 is, I think, irresponsible,” Barrett says on Morgan’s show. The clip also is included on O’Keefe’s video.

Clarke’s public information officer did not return calls from Wisconsin Reporter requesting comment from the sheriff.


Milwaukee, in many ways, has been ground zero in the nation’s gun debate battle, which has pitted the Obama administration and passionate proponents of tougher gun control against ardent backers of Second Amendment rights.

Mass murders last year at a Sikh temple and at a salon and spa, each occurring in suburban Milwaukee, brought the issue of gun violence into the national spotlight.

Last week, Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn, sparred with U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in Capitol Hill testimony. Flynn supports a proposed assault-weapons ban.

Clarke has sent a letter to Graham, apologizing on behalf of his constituents for what the sheriff described as Flynn’s “embarrassing” and “rude” testimony, accusing the chief of being hostile to gun rights, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The two men have had a strained relationship for some time.

O’Keefe, who earned national acclaim among conservatives for his 2009 video expose on community organizer ACORN, has faced his share of criticism, particularly from liberals and members of the mainstream media, for selectively editing his hidden camera investigations.

And it appears Project Veritas’ “On Your Own” video is no exception.

But O’Keefe’s point, that longer police response times could put citizens in peril, may be driven home in places like Milwaukee.

A Milwaukee Journal investigation in 2011 found the Milwaukee Police Department’s response times averaged 17 minutes and 55 seconds for armed robbery calls.

A New York-area officer on O’Keefe’s video claimed it could take police as much as 30 minutes to respond to a call.

Clarke claims response times in the county have gotten longer in recent years.

So the question, according to O’Keefe, is, are citizens really on their own? If so, how do they protect themselves? While proponents of new gun-control laws say assault-weapons bans and universal background checks won’t prevent law-abiding citizens from owning a handgun or a shotgun, O’Keefe’s video suggests more  laws would further hinder a citizen’s right to bear arms – at least until police arrive.


Contact M.D. Kittle at [email protected]

Part of 6 in the series On Your Own


M.D. Kittle is bureau chief of Wisconsin Watchdog and First Amendment Reporter for Watchdog.org. Kittle is a 25-year veteran of print, broadcast and online media. He is the recipient of several awards for journalism excellence from The Associated Press, Inland Press, the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, and others. He is also a member of Investigative Reporters & Editors. Kittle's extensive series on Wisconsin's unconstitutional John Doe investigations was the basis of a 2014 documentary on Glenn Beck's TheBlaze. His work has been featured in Town Hall, Fox News, NewsMax, and other national publications, and his reporting has been cited by news outlets nationwide. Kittle is a fill-in talk show host on the Jay Weber Show and the Vicki McKenna Show in Milwaukee and Madison.

  • PiperScott1949

    I am indeed 63.

  • Son… you’re on your own. 😉

  • “At it again”??

    Sounds like he’s on the right track.

    What part of this do people not understand?

    Milwaukee Journal investigation in 2011 found the Milwaukee Police
    Department’s response times averaged 17 minutes and 55 seconds for armed
    robbery calls.”

    You can wait…I will shoot. OK?

  • It took the police 27 minutes to respond to the beating of the Milwaukee mayor outside of the Wisconsin State Fair a few years back. Imagine the response time for Joe & Betty Sixpack!!
    When seconds matter, you can count on the police being minutes away!
    I figured with Barrett getting beaten to within an inch of his life, it would have made him realize that it is best for people to be responsible for their own security and have a way of defending themselves. But apparently, that beating must have caused even more brain-damage to his twisted liberal mind. Barrett and Flynn, the worst thing to happen to Milwaukee in my lifetime.

  • Jack Lohman

    Here we are again, fighting the effect rather than the cause. Bad people. I can see gun ownership going either way. Either saving me or killing me. Let’s spend our time on what has trashed this country… greed and the political bribes that facilitate them.

  • JungleCogs

    It is up to each individual to protect themselves and their family. The police are under no legal obligation to protect anyone, except themselves (that’s been proven in court). Clarke has figured-out that the best line of protection for all is to have an armed, well trained and law abiding citizenry.

    The police are granted the power to pursue and arrest. A civilian is granted the power to protect. Both must follow the law as it is specific. There is a reason that in areas where citizens are given the choice to be armed, crime drops; and where they are not, crime increases. The criminal mind is quite predictable.

  • ConLawyer

    As one who spent 20 years as a real, live, working cop, much of it in WI, and a good part of it in a couple of large metro areas in other states, I greatly admire Sheriff Clarke. By the very nature of their job, cops are reactive. Plus, none other than the U.S. Supreme Court has held that citizens do not possess a right to police protection, recognizing that L.E. officers and agencies cannot guarantee the safety of citizens’ lives and property. While David Clarke is a man of conviction and clanging cajones, Flynn and Barrett are the prototypes of the sanctimonious, effite ivory tower pols who, by virtue of their connections and positions, are able to exist apart from the concerns of the common citizen. While the Republican party is no stranger to these types, it is curious how many of these pontificating blow hards emanate from the Democrat left, particularly eastern and metropolitan areas that are now the bastions of government failure.

  • Troy

    Dear Mr Clark, You are the Regan Candidate For Mayor ,Milwaukee desperately needs to bring Prosperity and Dignity Back to all the Races of Milwaukee.I believe if You were Mayor in Milwaukee. Within one year, hundreds of Businesses would return and thousands of jobs would be created. The Crime rate would be cut in half and Christianity and Compassion would quickly return to normal. Bad teachers and Unions would become extinct and Prosperity and Happiness would be the new norm. Please Save Milwaukee Mr. Clark. All Races in Milwaukee will unite around You. God Bless, and Thanks.