Motor City has become Murder City. With 333 homicides of all kinds last year, Detroit tops the list of major cities under siege by violent criminals. The man with the nation’s most thankless job, Detroit Police Chief James E. Craig, shocked the establishment when he said last week that he thinks the solution to Motown’s crime is more guns.
Chief Craig served nearly three decades in the Los Angeles Police Department, where “it took an act of Congress” to get permission to carry a gun. That’s how he once thought things ought to be done. He was a standard-issue big-city police official. Then he moved east to become the top cop in Portland, Maine, one of the safest cities he had ever been in and where many people own guns.
Suddenly, an epiphany. “Suspects knew that good Americans were armed,” he says. Now in Detroit, Chief Craig credits the decrease in crime in part to the “a number of [concealed-carry permit] holders running around the city of Detroit.” If more Detroit citizens were armed, Chief Craig told a news conference last week, criminals would think twice before attacking them.
That reflects what Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association said in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shootings in Newtown, Conn., last year. “The best way to stop a bad guy with a gun,” he said, “is a good guy with a gun.” But that’s apostasy among liberals. Few big-city police chiefs have the courage to speak up on anything controversial unless it’s to parrot the views of the liberal mayors who hire them and fire them.
Beat cops have never been persuaded that depriving citizens of the right to defend themselves and their families with a gun is anything more than disarming the victim. In 2011, a survey of police officers by the National Association of Chiefs of Police found that 98 percent of those surveyed think “any law-abiding citizen [should] be able to purchase a firearm for sport and self-defense.” Seventy-nine percent think someone with a permit to carry a gun in one state should be allowed to carry it concealed in another.
Chief Craig sees the results firsthand of legal gun ownership. There have been 73 “justifiable homicides” in Detroit since 2011, and only 15 in 2013. Most of these, reports The Detroit News, involved residents such as 76-year-old Willie White, who fatally shot a man who broke into his home. His house had been broken into several times before he confronted and fatally shot an 18-year-old thug who had broken in in 2012. Mr. White told The News, “… these criminals would definitely think twice if they knew more citizens were armed.”
Detroit is bankrupt financially, but not in a police chief with courage and initiative, and citizens who are determined to take their city back from criminals.