"After sitting down and thinking about this, I'm thinking 'Hey, I've got an untapped reserve over here, and it's the public,'" Clarke said.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's office released a statement criticizing the ad: "Apparently Sheriff David Clarke is auditioning for the next Dirty Harry movie."
Barrett was beaten up several years ago by someone with a tire iron, and Clarke said he thought that would make the mayor "a lot more sensitive to people being able to defend themselves in such instances. A firearm and a plan of defense would have come in handy for him that day."
Jeri Bonavia, executive director of Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort, said Clarke took a dangerous position with his ad. She pointed to the case of George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida who fatally shot an unarmed 17-year-old following an altercation. Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, claiming self-defense under Florida's "stand your ground" law.
"I feel like this is such an irresponsible thing for our chief public safety officer of a county to do," Bonavia said. "I think he owes this community an apology. And if he really believes that he's not capable of providing for our public safety he should get a different job."