Detroit’s top cop has made a very surprising admission for a big city police chief: He thinks citizens should use guns for self-defense. Chief James Craig has even said that he believes armed citizens can deter crime.
“I’m pro-Second Amendment,” Craig said at a recent press conference. “I didn’t frame it, I didn’t write it. It’s not a James Craig law. The framers framed it 200-plus years ago. I’m in my 50s. I wasn’t around then. I’m pro-safety, I’m pro-life, I’m pro-law abiding citizens staying alive, having the ability to protect themselves from a dangerous situation.”
Craig was responding to a reporter who asked him if he was “pro-gun.” He also made a strong statement in favor of guns for self-defense.
“There’s been research done that armed law-abiding citizens can and I use the word ‘can’ be a deterrent to violent crime,” Craig said. “There’s no secret in the city of Detroit that there are armed citizens and I believe that has a deterring effect on violence. I’m not saying that is the only thing. Suspects know that if they make a poor decision to engage in a violent crime that they can encounter an armed citizen.”
Chief Responds to Critics
The chief made his support for gun rights public in an interview with a National Rifle Association (NRA) magazine, America’s 1st Freedom. The magazine even put a picture of Craig on its cover. The press conference was held to respond to criticism and media inquiries about the story.
“I didn’t call for this press conference,” Craig said.
He said many Detroit area residents had applauded his position and congratulated him for taking it.
“We’re not advocating violence, we’re advocates for not being victims,” Craig said. “Again, this is not a statement that promotes violence.”
The real issue, he said, was the large number of guns in the hands of criminals.
“I think we need to change the conversation,” Craig said. “It’s not about law-abiding citizens with guns, it’s more about how do we get guns out of the hands of criminals? Too many violent criminals are in possession of guns and that’s the problem.”
“Really this is about pro-life, this is about protection,” Craig said.
Citizens have a right to life and to protect themselves from violent predators, he said.
Craig is a veteran cop who has been on the job for more than 37 years. His impressive resume includes:
- 28 years on the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) where he held the ranks of sergeant, lieutenant and captain. During his time in LA, Craig served in some of the nation’s most violent neighborhoods.
- A stint as police chief of Portland, Maine. While he was chief in Portland, that city saw its violent crime rate fall by 10 percent.
- A short stint as police chief of Cincinnati from 2011 to 2013.
Craig’s current job is a homecoming for him; he’s a Detroit native who began his law enforcement career on the Detroit Police Department in 1977.
The job Craig has taken is not an easy one. According to the FBI’s Crime Statistics Database, Detroit’s murder rate is 10 times the national average and the murder rate has risen by 54.6 percent since 2000. The city is bankrupt, and 100,000 residents have moved out of town since 2000.
Until last year it took Detroit police an average of 58 minutes to respond to 911 calls because the force was undermanned, according to local media.
Craig has been credited for restructuring the police force and for a slight drop in violent crime over the last year, Forbes noted. He has also shaken up the force by replacing ineffective administrators.
“This new chief is picking the right people, and they’re looking for outside help,” Detroit Crime Commission head Andrew Arena said of Craig.
What do you think about Detroit’s police chief? Tell us in the comments section below.