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Detroit Police Chief: Armed Citizens Deter Crime

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Saturday, 04 Jan 2014 12:09 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Detroit Police Chief James Craig has an idea for fighting crime — arm more citizens.

"When we look at the good community members who have concealed weapons permits, the likelihood they’ll shoot is based on a lack of confidence in this police department,” said the chief at a press conference this week, The Detroit News reports.

The chief said he believes the financially crippled city's residents are feeling safer and violent crime dropped seven percent in 2013. But Craig said that he's changed his mind over the years over whether citizens should be armed.

He said that when he was on the Los Angeles police force for 28 years, California law made it difficult to get a concealed weapon permit. However, when he became police chief in Portland, Me., in 2009 he changed his mind.

"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," Craig said. "I changed my orientation real quick. Maine is one of the safest places in America. Clearly, suspects knew that good Americans were armed.”

Craig said on a radio show in mid-December that there are a number of people in Detroit with concealed pistol licenses (CPL), and he thinks it's a deterrent to crime.

"Good Americans with CPLs translates into crime reduction," said Craig. "I learned that real quick in the state of Maine.”

Craig's stance is unusual for a police chief, but Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police Director Robert Stevenson said that there are many police officers who have no problem when law-abiding citizens have guns, but they usually try to stay out of those discussions.

Craig's opinion, though, does not stretch to assault weapons, which he has said should be banned. He's also called for tight restrictions for online ammunition sales, to regulate high-capacity magazines, and for background checks for gun sales.

There were 15 justifiable homicides in Detroit in 2013, down from 25 in 2012, the Detroit News reports. In most of those cases, citizens were defending themselves by killing criminals.

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