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

03/15/2013 09:00

by Matt Kittle

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.

Last Wednesday, O'Keefe's Project Veritas released, "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.

[Ed Note: Unfortunately, the situation in Milwaukee isn't an isolated incident. Local governments all across the country (at the state, county and city level) can't find enough money to fund basic public services.

Take Camden, New Jersey, for example, a place that tops the list of most dangerous cities in America year after year. Residents of the city have been told when the criminals are at the door, calling the police won't be able to help them. And on the other side of the country, in Oakland California, the police chief announced that the police will no longer respond to various crime calls. Among them are burglary, theft, failure to register as a sex offender and vandalism... just to name a few.

These cuts are just the beginning. Services you take for granted in your hometown could disappear altogether.

Budgets for trash removal and road construction are being scaled back or eliminated. But these are symptoms of a bigger problem. A problem that concerns more than just your family's personal safety.

Our founder Bill Bonner believes when the final stage of this crisis arrives, "governments around the world will be called into question. Certain currencies will die. A lot of people will lose a lot of money. Social unrest will occur -- maybe outside your front door."

But that doesn't mean you have to go down with the sinking ship. There are steps you can take to protect yourself, your investments, and your future. Click here to find out more.]

"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.


Matt Kittle - Wisconsin Reporter, Bureau Chief and Reporter. This article was originally posted on, a site run by the Franklin Center.