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Detroit chief on NRA article: ‘I’m pro life’

Detroit Police Chief James Craig’s stance on residents using guns to protect themselves is garnering national attention

By Elisha Anderson
Detroit Free Press

DETROIT — Detroit Police Chief James Craig’s stance on residents using guns to protect themselves is garnering national attention after landing him on the cover of a gun rights magazine.

He reiterated his views today at a news conference, saying 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.

Craig was the subject of a cover story called “A show of courage in Detroit” in America’s 1st Freedom magazine, produced by the National Rifle Association. The article highlights recent home invasions thwarted by armed residents, saying “citizens fighting back” appears to be a growing trend in Detroit.

The article lays out statistics, including police response times, a slashed budget and smaller police force.

Craig said he thinks he was chosen because not many police chiefs in major cities have taken the position that he has. Several of them did not return calls for comment to the Free Press.

“Critics will say, ‘Well , chief are you saying that the Detroit Police Department can’t do its job?’ That is absolutely an untrue, inaccurate statement,” he said.

“Police officers cannot and will not be on every corner, in front of every house, every business in the city,” he said. “That’s just not realistic.”

Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality spokesman Ron Scottcalled Craig’s comments “incendiary.”

“This is a public safety and community issue, not simply a Second Amendment issue,” he 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.

There were 11 justifiable homicides this time last year and what appears to be 13 so far this year, but police still are waiting on the prosecutor’s office to make a determination, said police spokesman Sgt. Michael Woody.

Last year, Detroit had 15 homicides deemed justifiable in addition to 333 homicides, according to police statistics.

Craig said he is not an advocate for violence, rather an advocate for not being a victim and he denounced vigilantism, calling it cowardly.

When asked during the news conference whether he is in favor of open carry, he replied: “It’s the law. I support the law.”

He explained his support for law-abiding citizens protecting themselves against imminent threats in the article.

“This is not about inciting vigilantism, because in my view when you talk about vigilantism, you’re talking about someone who has made a decision to do law enforcement’s job — go out and enforce the law,” he’s quoted as saying in the article. “This is not that at all. This is about self-defense, protection, an imminent threat to life, very different response.”

Copyright 2014 the Detroit Free Press