Detroit Police Chief To Citizens: Arm Yourselves

Former gun-control advocate changes tune in combating crime

DREW ZAHN

Detroit Chief of Police James Craig

During his 28 years on the police force in Los Angeles, James Craig tended to agree with his state’s tight control over concealed carry permits, believing fewer guns would lead to fewer violent crimes.

But when he moved to Portland, Maine, in 2009 to serve as the city’s new police chief, he discovered a different culture – one where guns actually made people safer.

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.

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