Detroit police chief: Armed citizens can make city safer

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Detroit’s police chief is sticking to his guns after being criticized for supporting citizens to arm themselves.

Police Chief James Craig responded Thursday to a Detroit resident who challenged his pro-gun stance. Mr. Craig made national news earlier this month after he said armed citizens could serve as a deterrent to criminals, The Detroit News reported.

“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 CCWs (carrying concealed weapon permits), and I had a stack of CCW permits I was denying; that was my orientation,” he said at a press conference on Jan. 2. “I changed my orientation real quick. Maine is one of the safest places in America. Clearly, suspects knew that good Americans were armed.”

“It could lead to vigilantism,” Detroit resident Sandra Hines said Thursday during a Detroit Board of Police Commissioners meeting. “We already have the open-carry law here, and we have the stand-your-ground law. We don’t need anybody encouraging citizens (to carry guns).”

Mr. Craig argued that research done by the Department of Justice shows that “armed citizens, good citizens, can have a deterring effect on violent crime,” The Detroit News reported.

“While I sit here with lots of optimism and encouragement that crime is declining, we still have incident after incident where individuals like elderly people get dragged out of their cars at gunpoint,” the police chief continued.

“This is not often talked about: responsibility. I do not condone vigilantism. I don’t support individuals arming themselves and doing the work of police officers. Police officers are trained to enforce the law. I think you put people at risk when you have people that are out playing police. I do see that a concealed weapon is an opportunity for self-protection only; not to go out and enforce the law,” he said.

Detroit police reported a 14 percent decline in homicides from 2012.

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