Detroit police chief to citizens: Arm yourselves

Drew Zahn

During his 28 years on the law enforcement officials in Los Angeles, James Craig tended to agree with his state’s tight control over concealed carry permits, thinking less weapons would lead to less violent criminal offenses.

But when he moved to Portland, Maine, during 2009 to serve as the city’s new police chief, he discovered a different lifestyle – one where weapons actually made people more secure.

Detroit police chief to citizens Arm yourselves

Now Craig, the chief of police in Detroit, Mich., has a message for the law-abiding folks in his crime-ridden city: Arm yourselves, and criminals will think twice about attacking you.

At a press conference at police headquarters Thursday, the Detroit News reports, Craig praised the deterrent power of a legally armed citizenry.

“When we look at the good community members who have concealed weapons permits,” he said, “the likelihood they’ll shoot is based on a lack of confidence in this Police Department.”

Craig’s statements echoed those he made Dec. 19 on WJR Radio’s “The Paul W. Smith Show”: “There’s a number of [concealed pistol license, or CPL] holders running around the city of Detroit. I think it acts as a deterrent. Good Americans with CPLs translates into crime reduction. I learned that real quick in the state of Maine.”

At the press conference Thursday, Craig described his conversion from gun hater to gun advocate.

“Coming from California, where it takes an act of Congress to get a concealed weapon permit, I got to Maine, where they give out lots of [carrying concealed weapon permits, or CCWs], and I had a stack of CCW permits I was denying; that was my orientation,” he said. “I changed my orientation real quick. Maine is one of the safest places in America. Clearly, suspects knew that good Americans were armed.”

Robyn Thomas, director of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in San Francisco, however, criticized Craig’s conclusion.

“I think at its core, his position is an emotional one, based on the idea that people feel safer when they have guns. But studies have shown more guns don’t deter crime,” Thomas told the News. “There’s no research that shows guns make anyone safer, and it does show that, the more guns in any situation, the higher the likelihood of them harming either the owner, or people who have access to them.”

Yet just two months ago, the very research Thomas says doesn’t exist was published in Volume 21, Issue 4, of the prestigious Applied Economic Letters, whose editorial board includes professors from Oxford, Cambridge, Princeton, Yale, Harvard, MIT and more.

According to the study’s abstract, published Nov. 26, 2013, Quinnipiac University’s Mark Gius found that even after adjusting for state- and year-specific trends, passing restrictive concealed weapons laws may actually increase murder rates.

“The purpose of the present study is to determine the effects of state-level assault weapons bans and concealed weapons laws on state-level murder rates. Using data for the period 1980 to 2009,” writes Gius, “the results of the present study suggest that states with restrictions on the carrying of concealed weapons had higher gun-related murder rates than other states. It was also found that assault weapons bans did not significantly affect murder rates at the state level.

“These results suggest that restrictive concealed weapons laws may cause an increase in gun-related murders at the state level,” Gius concludes. “The results of this study are consistent with some prior research in this area, most notably Lott and Mustard (1997).”

Rick Ector of the Firearm Academy of Detroit, which teaches gun safety classes, told the Detroit News Craig’s comments are unusual for a police official.

“It’s a huge, radical departure for the police chief to say good people should have access to firearms,” said Ector. “I’m not ready to say he’s pro-gun just yet, but it’s vastly different from what police chiefs have said in the past.”

The News further reports, “Although Craig said more responsible gun owners would likely lower crime, in the past he also has called for a ban on assault weapons, regulating high-capacity magazines, tighter restrictions on Internet ammunition sales and more stringent background checks for merchants who sell firearms at gun shows.”

Craig has also spoken up on the controversial practice of “stop and frisk,” advocating its use and claiming it’s not racist – as some critics charge – when the city is 85 percent black.

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2 Responses

  1. Ed says:

    Robyn Thomas is pretty much an uninformed idiot. There are tons of information proving beyond all doubt that armed people deter crime. My God, it is as if Thomas never read anything about it.

    Just for citizens there, this creature is incompetent and I would hope the members of his organization think with facts, not heresay, and joins the public that know such facts as the documented fact that our people – armed people, that is – prevent 2.5 million crimes a year while cops stop hardly any at all.. Or the stats in Britain and Australia when handguns became controlled. Or the facts about Kennesaw, Georgia. And on and on to hundreds of books and internet sources stating facts, rather than spouting the crap of those that would overthrow America..

  2. DDearborn says:


    I think you had better do a fact check on your statement claiming that government ammunition purchases are a tiny fraction of the total ammunition sales in the US. Actually Between the military, “Homeland” security (when did we become Nazi Germany by the way) and State, county, and local government agencies starting in 2011 they became a very large percentage of the total ammunition sales. This is one of the reasons for ammunition scarcity and massive price increases of over 300% in the last 4 years. Clearly the government does not use and therefore does not need even a fraction of the purchases in the last 3 years. But it has priced ammunition almost out of reach for the average consumer. And it has created scarcity and limited production on many times of ammunition. This was the goal of the Obama administration from the beginning.

    There will be no “boom” in ammunition sales because prices have become so high people simply cannot afford to buy ammunition even in recreational quantities. And if demand rises even a few percentage points the industry will use that to drive prices much higher and real demand will suffer even more. The idea here is that if you can’t legally ban the guns and ammo, make them so expense that Joe six pack can’t buy them . However this is a bit like closing the barn door after all the animals have run out. Typical government idiocy. If the government wasn’t literally operating as a criminal enterprise it would have nothing to fear from the people now would they.

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