Moral Low Ground


Detroit Police Chief James Craig Suggests Residents Get Guns

January 4, 2014 by Brett Wilkins in Crime & Punishment with 0 Comments
Detroit Police Chief James Craig (Photo: Joe Wessels)

Detroit Police Chief James Craig (Photo: Joe Wessels)

The police chief of Detroit, a city plagued by gun violence, recently suggested that crime could decrease if more residents armed themselves.

Fox News reports Chief James Craig made his controversial comments at a Thursday press conference at which he touted a 14 percent reduction in homicides last year. Craig said his views on gun control changed during his tenure as police chief of Portland, Maine.

“I changed my orientation real quick,” Craig told reporters. “Maine is one of the safest places in America. Clearly, suspects knew that good Americans are armed.”

In a recent interview on Detroit radio station WJR’s “The Paul W. Smith Show,” Craig was asked if the ‘knockout game,’ in which perpetrators sucker-punch victims, was a problem in Detroit.

“I think… the people who would engage in that foolishness probably know there’s a number of CPL (concealed pistol license) holders running around the streets of Detroit,” Craig replied. “Probably not a good idea.”

Craig added that he believed citizens legally carrying concealed guns is “a deterrent” to crime.

“Good Americans with CPLs translates into crime reduction too,” he said. “I learned that very quickly in the state of Maine. A lot of CPL holders.”

To which host Paul W. Smith said, “at the bitter end, the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

Such reasoning is embraced by pro-gun and firearm industry lobby groups such as the National Rifle Association. But according to a major peer-reviewed scientific study on the relationship between gun ownership and firearm homicide rates in the United States published last April in the American Journal of Public Health, “gun ownership was a significant predictor of firearm homicide rates” and there is “a robust correlation between higher levels of gun ownership and higher firearm homicide rates.”

Statistics and studies, however, may be small comfort to resident living in crime-ridden areas, where the mantra apparently endorsed by Chief Craig is “better to have a gun and not need one than need a gun and not have one.”

There were 333 criminal homicides in Detroit in 2013. Although that figure represents a 14 percent drop from the previous year, the city recorded as many murders as New York City, which has ten times as many inhabitants. Detroit, which has lost more than half its population over the past half century, has experienced a dramatic reduction in city services, including its police force, as it heads toward bankruptcy. In 2012, the city’s police union warned travelers to “enter Detroit at your own risk.” Detroit police have been forced to work 12-hour shifts and accept pay and benefit cuts as a result of the city’s ongoing financial crisis.

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