In Violent Detroit, Police Chief Tells Citizens to Arm Themselves

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Detroit police chief James Craig has always walked his own path. He’s earned the nickname “Hollywood” for both his predilection for news conferences and his experience in the Los Angeles Police Department. For years, though, he has set himself apart from many of his law enforcement contemporaries by actively telling the citizens of Detroit that they should arm themselves against criminals and thugs in Michigan’s most dangerous city.

According to a new profile in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, Detroit is a haven for crime. This isn’t anything we didn’t already know, but a look at the actual numbers is a cold slap in the face. Particularly worrisome to law-abiding residents is the city’s violent crime rate which is 48% higher than the national average. With 574 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, Detroit is one of the most risky places to live in the United States, particularly when counting only major metropolitan areas. Additionally, the latest statistics say that Detroit residents face a shameful 1 in 20 chance of being the victim of burglary.

Unfortunately, all of this crime is too much for the Detroit police force to handle. There are only 2,300 officers on the payroll in a city that declared bankruptcy in July of 2013. While Craig has done what he can to rally official forces, he and other law enforcement officials say that residents must be realistic about the situation in front of them. The Guardian quotes a Detroit-based firearms expert as saying, “You are your own first line of defense.”

It’s a philosophy that’s not only backed by the chief of police but by Michigan state law as well. In 2006, they followed Florida’s example by enacting a Stand Your Ground law. This self-defense statute removes the obligation to flee from a violent attack and gives the victim the freedom to use deadly force if in fear for their lives. While misguided liberals around the country have labeled such legislation as “shoot first” laws, the fact is that anyone who has ever actually faced a life-threatening situation knows that a Stand Your Ground statute is simply common sense.

Obviously, whether you live in Detroit, Tampa, or Phoenix, it’s always better to beat a path to retreat whenever possible. Sometimes, however, retreating simply isn’t possible. If you’re a woman being stalked by a rapist, running in the other direction is only likely to delay the inevitable. Why should we have duty-to-retreat laws that place the safety of a violent criminal above the safety of the victim? Liberals who oppose castle doctrines and stand your ground laws have almost assuredly never been in a situation where they would need them.

Of course, you don’t need to have been the victim of violent crime to see the importance of these laws. You need only have a bit of common sense. While the state of things in Detroit is an absolute nightmare, it’s good to see that at least the chief of police has his head on straight when it comes to an armed citizenry.