Detroit residents take personal security into their own hands
Back in 2013, Detroit Polcie Chief James Craig suggested that, with a smaller police force and longer response times, responsible citizens might do well to arm themselves in order to protect their families and property.
Since then, Detroit residents appear to have taken Chief Craig's words to heart.
“When you look at the city of Detroit, we’re kind of leading the way in terms of urban areas with law-abiding citizens carrying guns,” Craig said recently.
The chief's call to arms, which first came in December, 2013, has been answered by thousands of men and women tired of being victims and eager to reclaim their beleaguered city. In 2014, some new 1,169 handgun permits were issued, while 8,102 guns were registered with Detroit's police department - many to prior permit holders who bought new firearms. So for in 2015, nearly 500 permits have issued by the department and more than 5,000 guns have been registered.
“There’s definitely been a "Chief Craig" effect,” Rick Ector, a firearms instructor who runs the blog Legally Armed in Detroit. “His support and endorsement has been helpful.”
Obtaining a concealed-carry permit in the state of Michigan is not difficult compared to states with stricter gun laws. Eligible citizens can meet the state's training requirement in eight hours, and firearms academies and gun shops within the city offer one-day courses for as little as $99.
Ector said that he and other instructors have seen a steady rise in locals looking to get a permit, to protect themselves either on the street or in their homes. While data showing a relation between increased gun ownership and the crime rate is not available, Ector said legally armed residents are having an effect.
“Home invasions have gone down,” he said. “A huge reason was that there was a huge spate of homeowners using their guns against intruders. More people have guns and it’s making burglars cautious.”
The firearms instructor said women are driving growth in his business.
"It used to be that we would only have one or two women in a class,” he said. “Now we are seeing much, much more. This past May, I held a class where we trained 300 ladies.”
Detroit is more than 80% black and, acccording to a recent Pew survey, "54 percent of African-American residents nationwide now see legal gun ownership as more likely to protect people than to put their safety at risk. That figure was up from 29 percent two years ago."
Is this an outlier? Or a trend? The uptick in crime in many big cities is real and while the cop on the beat might not like the idea of armed citizens, people are more and more feeling the need to not only keep a gun in the home, but carry one with them when they leave the house.
There will no doubt be questionable incidents of self defense. And zealous, anti-gun prosecutors are always looking to make examples of ordinary citizens who defend themselves. But with conceal carry in all but a handful of states, the push to arm the population as a way to prevent oneself from becoming a victim of violent crime will probably continue to grow.