Continuing to harass pro-gun advocates, CNN's Piers Morgan attacked a Wisconsin sheriff who had encouraged citizens to own a firearm for self-defense. Morgan interrupted his guest repeatedly and tried to frame him as a loony Wild West gunman.
"What you're creating is a return to the Wild West in Milwaukee," Morgan insisted on Tuesday night's Piers Morgan Tonight. "You do these racy, Hollywood-style adverts. You want them all out there armed and shooting." [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Morgan painted his guest's commercial as a ridiculous John Wayne-style call to arms:
"I mean, Sheriff, listening to the way that you phrased yourself in that ad, the kind of Hollywood voice you put on, the deep tones, making it all sound terribly exciting and dramatic, it sounded like some kind of John Wayne movie. How on Earth does that kind of rhetoric to the American people serve any kind of sensible, rational purpose?"
While Morgan badgered Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, he was quite easy on Milwaukee City Mayor Tom Barrett who opposed Clarke's action.
"Mr. Mayor, look, I get frustrated with this because I don't think it's the job of a sheriff to be going on producing advertisements urging -- (Barrett interrupts) -- No, let me go to the mayor -- to effectively be ignoring a first response call to the police. What is your reaction to what the sheriff was just saying?" Morgan effectively made the debate two-versus-one with that statement.
When Clarke couldn't produce statistics of families who had used a firearm in self-defense, Morgan dumped on his guest: "You haven't got a clue, do you? You haven't got a clue."
A transcript of the segment, which aired on Piers Morgan Tonight on January 29 at 9:33 p.m. EST, is as follows:
PIERS MORGAN: I mean, Sheriff, listening to the way that you phrased yourself in that ad, the kind of Hollywood voice you put on, the deep tones, making it all sound terribly exciting and dramatic, it sounded like some kind of John Wayne movie. How on Earth does that kind of rhetoric to the American people serve any kind of sensible, rational purpose?
Sheriff DAVID CLARKE JR., Milwaukee County, Wisconsin: Well, first of all, I object to the Hollywood voice. This is the way I talk. This is my voice. And that ad was recorded at a studio. But let me get back more to your point. First of all, as it relates to the mayor, the mayor is completely wrong. I'm the top law enforcement agency in Milwaukee County. And we are a full-fledged law enforcement agency. We respond to everything.
But that's not the point. Because the citizens could care less what uniform the officer's wearing when in fact they call for the police. Now, the Mayor submitted a budget this year that furloughs 1,500 police officers three days each. That's 4,500 fewer officer hours to be spent patrolling and responding to calls for service.
My agency itself, the county, I had to lay off 42 officers last year. On top of that, there is an increasing demand of 911 calls, calls for service, that are going unanswered or in a delayed fashion, not through any fault of the street officer but because of the fact that they don't have the proper amount of resources. Plus they've been operating at an amount of a –
MORGAN: Let me ask you a question.
CLARKE: – about 200 officers short.
MORGAN: Let me ask you a question.
CLARKE: They have fewer and fewer resources.
MORGAN: In your time as the sheriff, how many people in Milwaukee, to your certain knowledge, have defended themselves and their family at home by firing a firearm?
CLARKE: I don't have those statistics.
MORGAN: Well, give me a ballpark.
CLARKE: I don't think we need to go there, to be honest with you. The fact is --
MORGAN: You haven't got a clue, do you? You haven't got a clue.
CLARKE: Wait a minute.
MORGAN: No, I won't wait a minute. You want to arm everybody in Milwaukee. You do these racy, Hollywood-style adverts. You want them all out there armed and shooting. I'm told over the weekend, a 36-year-old Milwaukee woman was approached by police after firing a gun in front of a neighborhood house when she heard a rowdy neighbor. And she explained herself by saying Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. – that's you – had said it was okay for her to arm herself. What you're creating is a return to the wild west in Milwaukee.
CLARKE: If I can answer the question –
MORGAN: So I think it's actually relevant that you don't actually have any idea how many people ever need to actually fire a firearm at home to defend themselves.
CLARKE: Are we going to have an honest exchange here? Or are you just going to continue to talk over me?
MORGAN: I'm not sure how honest it can be if you haven't got a clue about any of the statistics involving people defending themselves with firearms at home in Milwaukee.
CLARKE: Well, again, first of all, personal safety is an individual responsibility. It's not up to me to decide who should or who should not own a firearm.
MORGAN: No, no, no, I'm not going to let you get away with that. No, no, no, no, no, no. No.
CLARKE: I said you can hide under the bed. I said you can do a number of things including taking a firearm safety course in the use and handling of a firearm. Those are responsible things to do. But Piers, those are choices that the individual has to make, not law enforcement, who may be minutes and miles away.
MORGAN: Well, we'll get the Mayor's reaction. What I was going to say to you is, of course, it is not a personal choice when a sheriff in Milwaukee makes an advertisement directly telling the people of Milwaukee to go arm themselves. That becomes a law enforcement mission statement.