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Detroit: A New Police Chief and His Armed Citizens Are Taking Back Their City

Detroit“Bankrupt and crime ridden.” That’s a how a Detroit native referred to his hometown when I met him at a Cleveland Browns game last year. It’s hard to believe that at one time (1960), Detroit had the highest per-capita income of any city in the United States. But that was a long time ago, folks. Things have changed for the worse. People are fleeing the city in droves. In the last 14 years over 200,000 people have packed up and moved out. Yet, the crime rate has continued to climb.

The Democratic Party has ruled Detroit for the last 51 years and counting, and the city arguably has the toughest gun laws in the country. That’s none other than a liberal paradise. So shouldn’t the city be prospering while crime rates bottom out, unemployment rates plummet, and the low income pull themselves out of poverty with the strong hand of progressive policies? Nope. Not even close. As a matter of fact, they routinely have the highest unemployment rate of any city in the United States and the highest murder rate of any major city at 54.6 homicides per 100,000 people. That’s 10 times the national average. The murder rate in 2013 was the same as it was in 2000, but with 200,000 less people. There are about 78,000 abandoned homes within the city. One-third of the city’s 143 square miles is derelict. Sixty percent of all children within the city are living in poverty. In 2013, 43% of babies born in Detroit were to single mothers. Fifty percent of all children born were to parents on welfare. The average police response time was 58 minutes and only 1 out of 3 of the city’s ambulances are in working condition. Oh, by the way, they also filed for bankruptcy for being $20 billion in debt. If my calculations aren’t too terribly off, that should equal about $25,000 per person. Like I said, a progressive paradise.

Detroit chiefSo how do we clean up Detroit? It needs a new leader and its citizens need to take action. Cue Police Chief James Craig. Craig, a native of Detroit started his career in his beloved city in 1977 before transferring to Los Angeles in 1981. There, he worked his way up to a high ranking Captain position all the while cleaning up the streets. In 2009, he became Police Chief of Portland, Maine where he successfully reduced crime rate by 10% during his two year stay. In 2011, he took the job as Police Chief of Cincinnati, Ohio and was the first African American to hold that position. After a two year stay, he finally came back home to Detroit to take the job as its new Police Chief. Although, it wasn’t the same city he left 33 years earlier.

Craig brought what he had learned over a lifetime as a police officer back to his beloved city. What he admittedly realized, was that the cities with the highest crime rates were also the cities with the strictest gun laws. His faith that guns help was cemented while in Maine, which has the highest rate of people permitted to carry concealed guns but also boasts one of the lowest crime rates. So what did Craig do when he became Police Chief of Detroit? In January, he told his good citizens to start packing heat: get a firearm and protect themselves. That’s when I started following this story. Criminals don’t like it when their potential victims have guns and fight back. It’s simple logic. Since I’m of sound mind, I knew what was going to happen before the ink ever dried on the papers. The crime rate was going to drop. And that’s exactly what happened. Compared to stats from this time last year, overall crime rate is down 20%. Homicides are down 13%. Robbery/home invasion is down 39%. Carjackings are down 29% and non-fatal shootings are down 14%.

So what did Police Chief Craig have to say about this? During a news conference Craig said, “Criminals are getting the message that good Detroiters are armed and will use that weapon,” said Craig, who has repeatedly said he believes armed citizens deter crime. “I don’t want to take away from the good work our investigators are doing, but I think part of the drop in crime, and robberies in particular, is because criminals are thinking twice because citizens could be armed.” However, Craig also made a statement to the NRA citing, “This is not about inciting vigilantism, because in my view when you talk about vigilantism, you’re talking about someone who has made a decision to do law enforcement’s job — go out and enforce the law. This is not that at all. This is about self-defense, protection, an imminent threat to life, very different response,” When the NRA questioned Craig about possibly holding a convention in his city, Craig stated that he was not a member and never has been. However, Craig did say that he would welcome a convention as it would bring revenue to the city.

detroit gunDetroit still has its problems. It’s going to take more than a good Sheriff and armed civilians to quell them all. But it’s a start. The average police response time has dropped considerably while concealed carry permits are on the rise. Crime rate is down and the citizens are starting to feel safer. It’s important for the city to build on this momentum. Will crime rates continue to fall or is this just a flash in the pan? The nation’s eyes are on Detroit. But if you’re a criminal in The Motor City, the good citizens and their new sheriff have their eyes on you as well. Right behind the cross-hairs.

Paul Craft
Paul was born, raised in the historic town of Fincastle, Va (just outside of Roanoke). He lives on a registered “Century Farm” that has been in his family since 1906 in a house that was built in the 1790s. His farm has over 300 hundred head of cattle, 6 donkeys, 17 chickens and various other animals along with his dogs, Mike, Buster, and Loki. Paul is married and has three step-children. Paul graduated from Emory and Henry College in 2004 with a degree in Geography and an emphasis in environmental studies. Paul works as a Mental Health Counselor and is currently working towards his Masters Degree in Counseling through Liberty University and will soon be a Christian Counselor.

5 thoughts on “Detroit: A New Police Chief and His Armed Citizens Are Taking Back Their City

  1. There’s a lot of stats in here. One that is missing is how many more people in Detroit own guns now than before. I kind of feel like that’s an important one given the argument you’re putting forth. Simply saying more people are carrying guns without any numbers to go with it is a huge hole in this article. Also, you said the murder rate stayed the same even though there were 200,000 fewer people in the city. That is a meaningless statement. one in a thousand people getting killed is one in a thousand whether the city’s population is 1 million of ten thousand. If you meant to say the total number of murders stayed the same that would mean something. Also interesting to note that stories about Detroit being on the rise have been in the news for years and not just since this new sheriff got there. As an economy improves, crime will go down. Furthermore, the idea of using the state of Maine as a bellwether for how the rest of the country works is ridiculous. Why don’t we talk about how things are going in Wyoming or North Dakota while we’re at it. Lord knows those places are just like the rest of the country and very similar to places like New York, LA, Chicago and DC, also known as places where people actually live.

    1. I wasn’t able to find a number on how many Detroiters had legal guns prior to 2012. All of the information that I was able to find just stated there was a significant increase in concealed carry permits being issued from 2012-2013. Total permits issued were over 14,000 in Detroit alone. It wasn’t until January of 2014 that Police Chief Craig told his citizens to start arming themselves. Data for 2014 obviously isn’t available yet. When I meant the murder rate stayed the same, I was implying the body count has remained the same even though the city has 200,000 less citizens. That’s my fault, I should’ve made that clear. I don’t know where you’re getting information that Detroit is on the rise. As far as crime is concerned, it reached a 20 year high in 2012. Probably a major reason why the concealed carry permits issued were about 7,500 that year. As I stated before, an apparent significant increase from previous years. Yes, let’s talk about NYC, Chicago, LA, and DC. They have the strictest gun laws of all major cities in the United States but also have the highest murder rates. It should be noted that while Craig was working as a Captain in LA for 28 years, he was anti gun. He admitted that it took “an act of congress” to get a concealed carry permit in LA. However, he stated that once he moved to Portland, Maine and observed the high numbers of concealed carry permit holders and the remarkably low crime rate, he put two and two together. You can argue that Maine is not a fair example, but you can’t argue that a man who has been in law enforcement for 40 years (the majority a police chief in several major cities getting significant positive results)doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The numbers don’t lie.

  2. Also and as a very serious question, what percentage of black people would even be willing to carry a gun out in the streets even if it was legal? Between cops, neighborhood watches and white guys in Detroit’s suburbs, we get killed unarmed a good bit. I know there’s no way I’d carry a Damn gun in public in America, but I also feel like that’s how some people want blacks to feel anyway.

    1. 94% of black homicide victims in the United States occur at the hands of other blacks. It not the police, community watch, or suburban white guys you should be worried about. It’s your fellow black man. If I were an African American and wanted to essentially eliminate the chances of being a victim of theft, homocide, rape, or any other violent crime, I would try to move to a conservative white suburban or rural area. If my only option was to live in a majority black community, then I would have a concealed carry permit and a firearm in the home for protection.

  3. Normally, I believe you could make an argument about how gun control/laws are affecting crime rates in a society. However, I believe the society in Detroit has become so out of whack that you have to consider more impactful variables first.

    For starters, the downtrodden economic status of Detroit is probably the best place to begin. Overwhelming unemployment rates have clearly led to an endless cycle of poverty that continues to worsen the living conditions in their environment. I’m sure if you add in the individuals who’ve literally fallen out of the workforce, the true unemployment rate would be baffling. When people are out of work and can’t afford to feed their family, let alone themselves, yeah they are going to start committing crimes because crime pays when nobody’s hiring.

    We also need to consider the housing industry in Detroit, which is in shambles. The Great Recession led to people moving out of Detroit in droves, leaving the city decimated. Neighborhoods have literally become abandoned and run down to the ground. In fact, your image of the slumping house says it all. People have literally lost pride in their communities and don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, making them more likely to care less about their fellow neighbors. I believe rehabilitating the neighborhoods and restoring a sense of pride in one’s community will have a much bigger impact than the gun laws.

    I believe this comes down to looking at something as simple as Maslow’s theory. In his hierarchy of needs he places safety secondary to our physiological needs. In Detroit too many people are forced to worry about sustaining their ability to eat food and drink water without a proper source of income. Anyone who’s been broke, or down and out, knows their mind’s start to wander to the dark side. So while I think gun laws can pose a valid argument in most stable societies, in Detroit it’s anything but stable, and therefore they should be evaluating economic factors way before gun laws.

    At the end of the day I felt this was a good article with some controversy behind it. I just want to make it clear, that I’m all for citizens having the right to protect themselves and fight force with force. It looks like Detroit has a new Sheriff in town, but his name aint Reggie Hammond! (Eddie Murphy Laugh*)

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