“I have a gun, get out!”
That’s the warning a Detroit mother gave the three hoodlums attempting to kick down her door on the night of Feb. 17, 2014. Armed with only a replica handgun, the intruders thought she was bluffing—until she opened fire. The mother of two was armed with a Hi-Point TS4 Carbine (what some would call an “assault rifle”) her husband gave her after a break-in just two weeks prior.
The crooks literally fell over themselves and quickly fled the area. Caught on surveillance cameras, the video went viral and illustrated what appears to be a growing trend in Detroit—citizens fighting back.
Detroit’s woes are no secret. Joblessness, poverty, gangs, illiteracy and crime now plague the once-thriving hub of the automotive industry. In July 2013, the city became the largest municipal government ever to file for bankruptcy. Studies estimate 25 percent of Detroit’s population have departed, reducing the city to numbers predating the Industrial Revolution.
Those who remain have watched Detroit decay into one of the most dangerous cities in the United States. In 2012, the Detroit Free Press reported 386 criminal homicides—the highest in two decades, and nearly as many as New York City, whose population is more than three times larger. The same year saw 1,263 non-fatal shootings, more than 400 rapes and nearly 5,000 robberies.
In 2013, a New York Times report found average police response times to Level One priority calls in Detroit were a staggering 58 minutes. The rate of cases solved stood at a mere 8.7 percent. Some police officials even took to warning visitors that if they came to the city, they should “enter at their own risk.”
Despite rampant crime and slow response, Detroit cut the police department’s 2012-2013 budget by $75 million, forcing 380 officers to either quit or retire early. The latest estimates indicate only about 3,000 sworn officers remain to protect 700,000 residents. Unable to rely on an overburdened police force, Motor City residents realized they had no choice: If they wanted to survive, they would have to fight back.
Officials say concealed carry permit applications have been on the rise, with about 80,000 permits now held in Wayne County alone. And Detroit is leading the state in justifiable homicide. The FBI estimated 15 justifiable homicides in Detroit for all of 2012, but nearly a dozen have been recorded in the first quarter of 2014. (The numbers should be taken with a grain of salt; the same records show only five defensive shootings in 2008 for Detroit, which then-chief Ralph Godbee disputed, saying their department recorded 35.)
According to MichiganLive, Detroit accounted for 81 percent of the state’s 212 justifiable homicides from 2000 to 2010. (Of note, law enforcement accounted for only 44 percent of statewide justifiable homicides.) The publication further stated many more shootings are left out because of improper reporting. And, of course, the numbers don’t reflect instances of armed self-defense where the criminal is not killed.
Many incredible stories of armed defense are cropping up all over Detroit already this year:
• In February, a woman returning home was ambushed in her garage by an armed robber. Dropping her keys to distract the man, she drew her .38-cal. handgun and fired several shots to end the threat to her life.
• The same month, a brazen daytime intrusion was thwarted when the homeowner heard the sound of glass breaking and retrieved a firearm in time to fire two shots at the intruders.
• Armed with a tire iron, two intruders broke into a southwest Detroit home, only to be shot by the homeowner.
• A woman in her 50s warned another daytime invader to get out before firing her handgun in self-defense.
• And in April, a retired Detroit nurse armed herself with a handgun before intervening in a gang-style beating of a man who had stopped to help a boy he accidentally hit with his car when the youngster darted across the street in front of him.
Earlier this year, James Craig, Detroit’s new police chief, commented to the media that criminals would think twice about attacking if more responsible citizens were armed.
“We’re not advocating violence,” Craig said. “We’re advocates of not being victims. We’re advocates of self-protection. We want people to be safe.”
Of course, many in the media and other gun-ban proponents cried foul. Yet average citizens in harm’s way seem to have taken the advice to heart, as illustrated by the numerous instances of armed self-defense the past few months.
“It does appear more and more Detroiters are becoming empowered,” Craig told reporters during a recent press conference. “More and more Detroiters are getting sick of the violence. I know of no other place where I’ve seen this number of justifiable homicides.”
America’s 1st Freedom recently caught up with Craig to find out more about his perspective on curbing violent crime.
A1F: Your comments supporting citizen self-defense have generated a lot of controversy. Did you expect them to create this big of a stir?
Craig: You know, I really didn’t, because it’s a Second Amendment-protected right. Certainly going to Maine and having served as police chief in Portland for a couple of years, I remember vividly the state having a motto saying, “The way life should be.” The thing I remember most: It was a good life, a safe city. There were a lot of CCW [Concealed Carry Weapon] holders. And so I had to believe that played a role in deterring violence.