Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who has been vocal in telling the people of his city to take advantage of their Second Amendment right and defend themselves, was the subject of a cover story in an NRA gun rights magazine and that has brought him praise and criticism, both locally and nationally.
Following the release of the article in America's 1st Freedom magazine, Craig held a press conference yesterday to restate his message.
The Detroit Free Press reports Craig said armed, law-abiding citizens can be a deterrent to violent crime. “I’m pro safety. I’m pro life. I’m pro law-abiding citizens staying alive, having the ability to protect themself in a dangerous situation,” he said.
Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality spokesman Ron Scott decried Craig’s comments as “incendiary.”
“This is a public safety and community issue, not simply a Second Amendment issue,” Scott said in a statement. He also called on police to find ways to “de-escalate the violence spawned by the Stand Your Ground principle,” in which citizens can use justifiable force if they feel their life is in imminent danger without any obligation to retreat.
During the news conference, Craig said there have been two more justifiable homicides this year compared to the same time period in 2013.
He said these statistics and reports of firearm accidents are not going to change his mind about the merits of gun ownership.
“We’ve heard instances of accidental discharges; or guns getting into the hands of children,” Craig told the Detroit News. “That’s terrible. But we’re talking about law-abiding, responsible citizens. ‘Responsible’ is the key word here.”
Scott's press release criticized Craig's stance and the NRA article.
“In a time when the citizens of Detroit are trying to find their way out of the current cycle of violence, this is not the time for the Department to use the Chief's public persona to unify with the political posture of the National Rifle Association,” Scott said. “This is a public safety and community issue, not simply a Second Amendment issue.”
Craig said he doesn’t understand why anyone would have a problem with a police chief saying he supports the Constitution.
“It does appear more and more Detroiters are becoming empowered,” Craig says in the article, adding that he didn’t expect his stance to generate the controversy that it has. “I really didn’t, because it’s a Second Amendment-protected right.”
Craig drew an analogy between responsible gun ownership and responsible driving. “The majority of people on the roads drive responsibly,” he said. “So if a few people drive irresponsibly, what’s the solution? Do we take away all cars?”
Craig’s stance on guns, unusual for big-city police chiefs, made national news after he said in January that responsible gun owners could deter crime. He said he hasn’t yet heard criticism from fellow police chiefs about his views — “But I expect to.”
“I believe responsible, good Americans have a right to protect themselves from an immediate threat to their life or to the life of another,” Craig says in the June NRA article titled “A Show of Courage in Detroit.” “I believe our focus should be on how to keep guns out of hands of criminals and those who aren’t responsible.”
Craig said he has noticed a “culture of violence” in Detroit since arriving in July. In another statement, which is featured on the magazine cover next to his photograph he stresses: “We’re not advocating violence. We’re advocates of not being victims.”