Detroit Police Chief Gives Credit to Armed Citizens for Drop in Crime
Fed up with crime, some armed Detroiters have developed itchy trigger-fingers — and Police Chief James Craig said lawbreakers are getting the message.
In the latest incident, police say an 88-year-old who was beaten and robbed inside his east side home last week probably thought he was defending himself against attackers when he opened fire Monday on a television news crew.
On Thursday, a woman appeared on his front porch asking for help, and when he opened his door, two men rushed in, assaulted him and tied him up with a phone cord before robbing him of several items.
A reporter from Channel 2 (WJBK) knocked on the man’s door on Arndt Street Monday, and conducted a short interview, although the man, whose name was not released, would not open his door. After a crew from Channel 7 (WXYZ) came onto the man’s porch, he fired a single shot. No one was hurt, and the bullet lodged into a tree.
Police took the man into custody, where he is undergoing a psychological evaluation, Assistant Chief Steve Dolunt said.
“I think he was traumatized; he got beat up pretty good,” Dolunt said. “When the second reporter went onto his porch, he may have thought she was the woman who had tricked him, and he probably thought he was defending himself.”
Dolunt said police are investigating the matter, and it will be up to prosecutors to decide whether to bring charges.
The incident was the latest in a string of homeowners opening fire to defend themselves, although after a flurry of such shootings early this year, before Monday there hadn’t been a reported incident since May 4 — an indication that criminals are thinking twice about breaking into people’s houses, Craig said.
Detroit has experienced 37 percent fewer robberies in 2014 than during the same period last year, 22 percent fewer break-ins of businesses and homes, and 30 percent fewer carjackings. Craig attributed the drop to better police work and criminals being reluctant to prey on citizens who may be carrying guns.
“Criminals are getting the message that good Detroiters are armed and will use that weapon,” said Craig, who has repeatedly said he believes armed citizens deter crime. “I don’t want to take away from the good work our investigators are doing, but I think part of the drop in crime, and robberies in particular, is because criminals are thinking twice that citizens could be armed.
“I can’t say what specific percentage is caused by this, but there’s no question in my mind it has had an effect,” Craig said.
Craig made national news in January, when he told The Detroit News he believed armed citizens deter crime — an unusual stance for an urban police chief. In May, the chief was featured in an NRA publication, America’s 1st Freedom, in a cover story titled “A Show of Courage in Detroit,” in which Craig reiterated his support for citizens using guns to protect themselves.
Through the years, various studies have reached different conclusions on whether tighter gun laws equal less crime. A 2013 study by the American Journal of Public Health found that the states with the loosest restrictions on gun ownership had the highest gun death rates. But a 2007 Harvard University study found that banning guns would not have an effect on murder rates.
Josh Horwitz, director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence in Washington D.C., insisted citizens with guns don’t deter crime.
“Our position is, more guns equals more crime,” Horwitz said “These are complicated issues, but the empirical evidence shows the states with the lowest gun ownership and the tightest restrictions have the fewest instances of gun violence.
Detroit resident Al Woods, a self-described former criminal who is now an anti-violence advocate and author, agreed criminals are thinking twice about attacking citizens.
“If I was out there now robbing people these days, knowing there are a lot more people with guns, I know I’d have to rethink my game plan,” said Woods, 60.
Craig said he doesn’t believe gun ownership deters criminals from attacking other criminals. “They automatically assume another criminal is carrying,” he said. “I’m talking about criminals who are thinking of robbing a citizen; they’re less likely to do so if they think they might be armed.”
Bill Welborne, 80, a former Tuskegee Airman and Korean War veteran, said he agreed with Craig.
“I have a pistol and a shotgun,” said Welborne, who wasn’t home 15 years ago when burglars broke into his west side house and stole his coin collection. “Without a doubt, if my life is in danger, I wouldn’t hesitate to shoot.”
By: George Hunter, The Detroit News
House Votes to Block D.C. Gun Regulations in Latest Challenge to City Laws
The House of Representatives moved Wednesday to block virtually all of the District’s gun restrictions, approving a budget amendment that would leave only federal law to regulate firearms in the nation’s capital.
The District’s gun laws are among the strictest in the country, and they have long been a target for conservative activists who tend not to live in the city but are still rankled by restrictions enacted by locally elected officials.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) on Wednesday offered an amendment that would prevent the city from spending funds to enforce local gun laws, including registration and education requirements for gun owners, bans on “assault”-type rifles and high-capacity magazines, and strict limits on carrying guns outside the home.
The Republican-controlled House approved the amendment and then the underlying appropriations bill, which includes the District budget. Whether the bill’s provisions become law will be subject to negotiation with Senate Democrats in the coming months.
The attack on the city’s gun laws followed another spending “rider,” which was added in committee to undermine a marijuana-decriminalization law scheduled to take effect Thursday. And a week ago, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) initiated an attempt to overhaul city gun laws through a proposed amendment to a Senate bill that ultimately died.
During a brief but fiery debate on the House floor Wednesday, Massie called the city’s gun laws “pure harassment” of its residents, and he said stricter gun regulations led to higher rates of violent crime.
“Why would the D.C. government want to harass and punish law-abiding residents that just want to defend themselves?” he asked. “Strict gun-control laws do nothing but prevent good people from being able to protect themselves and their families.”
Massie’s measure was denounced by two Democrats, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District and Rep. José E. Serrano of New York.
“It’s a flagrant abuse of democracy by a member who comes here with a tea party principle that says power should be devolved to the local level,” said Norton, who said Massie was “playing with the lives” of city residents, federal officials and visitors to the city.
After the amendment was approved on a voice vote, Massie asked for a roll call vote, and it passed 241 to 181.
In a statement released Wednesday, Massie noted that the Constitution grants Congress ultimate authority over District law and said it is “time . . . to step in and stop the D.C. government’s harassment and punishment of law-abiding citizens.”
By: Mike DeBonis, The Washington Post
Small-Arms Treaty, Big Second Amendment Threat
In a little-noticed action, the U.N. General Assembly on April 2, 2013, adopted by “majority vote” an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) with the objective of regulating the international trade in conventional arms from small arms to major military equipment. The treaty’s lofty objectives were to foster peace and security by limiting uncontrolled destabilizing arms transfer to areas of conflict. In particular, it was also meant to prevent countries that abuse human rights from acquiring arms.
While the record of the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty discussions makes no mention of it, the genesis for regulating the unrestrained transfer of conventional arms to conflict areas, Third World countries and human rights violators was a key policy of President Carter’s administration. Shortly after his inauguration in 1977, he initialed a policy of restraint on conventional-arms transfer and linked such control to the human rights record of potential recipients, particularly in Latin America. To implement this policy, the Carter administration proposed to the Soviet Union, the world’s second-leading supplier of arms, that it open negotiations to conclude such an agreement. These meetings were known as the Conventional Arms Transfer Talks.
The first region selected was Latin America, because there was less competition there than anywhere else in the world between the United States and the Soviet Union. As the director of political-military affairs, I was the Joint Chiefs of Staff representative in the U.S. delegation, which was headed by Les Gelb from the State Department. Suffice to say, after four meetings over a 12-month period and the “delusion” that a successful agreement could be achieved, the talks collapsed. The esoteric objectives may sound good in the faculty lounge, but they fail to pass muster in the real world.
The Soviets were always the reluctant suitors in this enterprise. They were not about to restrict the transfer of arms in areas that they viewed to be in their political interests. Certainly, there was not unanimity of purpose in the Carter administration. The Joint Chiefs of Staff viewed the objectives as an unnecessary infringement on our strategy and sovereignty.
For the record, the Obama administration’s Conventional Arms Transfer policy issued on Jan. 16 embraces many of the objectives of the Carter administration’s policy, as well as the current U.N. Arms Trade Treaty. However, it makes no mention of either one.
A number of major defects in the U.N. treaty were detailed in a letter sent to President Obama in October 2013 by 50 senators — both Republicans and Democrats. The first problem was that the treaty was adopted by majority vote in the U.N. General Assembly, not by consensus, a condition called for by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. After entry into force, the senators contend, the Arms Trade Treaty can be amended by majority vote of signatory countries, effectively negating the Senate’s constitutional treaty power and handing it to foreign governments. Even the State Department concedes, the senators wrote, that the treaty “includes language that could hinder the United States from fulfilling its strategic, legal and moral commitments to provide arms to key allies such as the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the State of Israel.”
Of most concern is the infringement on our constitutional rights, the senators charged. The Arms Trade Treaty “includes only a weak nonbinding reference to the lawful ownership, use of, and trade in firearms, and recognizes none of these activities, much less individual self-defense, as fundamental individual rights.” When coupled with the treaty’s ceding of interpretive authority to other countries, this poses a direct threat to the Second Amendment.
It should be noted that neither of Virginia’s senators, Mark Warner or Tim Kaine, signed the Senate letter against a U.N. treaty that threatens Americans’ right to keep and bear arms, and undermines American sovereignty.
Failing to sign the letter is not the first time Mr. Warner went AWOL on the Arms Trade Treaty. In January 2013, before Secretary of State John F. Kerry signed the treaty, the Senate passed a budget amendment sponsored by Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, to establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund for the purpose of “upholding Second Amendment rights, which shall include preventing the United States from entering into the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.” Mr. Warner and Mr. Kaine were among the 46 voting “nay” on the amendment.
Supporters of the treaty say there’s nothing to worry about, because the Second Amendment is a constitutional protection, and nothing in a treaty can undermine it. Gun rights champions strongly disagree. “The Obama administration is once again demonstrating its contempt for our fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, following Mr. Kerry’s signing of the treaty. “This treaty threatens individual firearm ownership with an invasive registration scheme. The NRA will continue working with the United States Senate to oppose ratification of the ATT.”
With 50 senators opposed to the Arms Trade Treaty, we can hope its prospects for Senate advice and consent are small — with or without the support of liberals such as Mr. Warner and Mr. Kaine. The Joint Chiefs of Staff also need to indicate clearly their concern, as it affect our strategy and sovereignty.
By: James A. Lyons, The Washington Times