Craig stands by 2nd Amendment support in wake of NRA magazine cover story

May 20, 2014 in News by The Manimal

Source: Detroit News

Police Chief James Craig on Monday reiterated his support for the Second Amendment in the wake of a National Rifle Association magazine cover story that featured the chief advocating for gun rights.

During a one-on-one interview with The Detroit News, and a press conference outside police headquarters later Monday, Craig said he not only supports the right to bear arms, but Michigan’s Open Carry law, which allows licensed gun owners to carry their firearms in non-restricted areas, as long as they’re not concealed.

“It’s the law, and I support the law,” he said. “The Second Amendment was written more than 200 years ago. It’s not a James Craig law. “

“We’ve heard instances of accidental discharges; or guns getting into the hands of children,” Craig said. “That’s terrible. But we’re talking about law-abiding, responsible citizens. ‘Responsible’ is the key word here.”

Community activist Ron Scott issued a press release Monday criticizing the NRA article.

“In a time when the citizens of Detroit are trying to find their way out of the current cycle of violence, this is not the time for the Department to use the Chief’s public persona to unify with the political posture of the National Rifle Association,” Scott said. “This is a public safety and community issue, not simply a Second Amendment issue.”

Craig said he doesn’t understand why anyone would have a problem with a police chief saying he supports the Constitution.

“I’m pro-life,” he said. “I’m pro-safety. I support law-abiding citizens’ right to protect themselves against imminent danger.”

Craig said responsible gun ownership was analogous to responsible driving.

“The majority of people on the roads drive responsibly,” he said. “So if a few people drive irresponsibly, what’s the solution? Do we take away all cars?”

Responding to reports that the NRA is considering holding its annual convention in Detroit, Craig said: “I don’t see a problem with that. Organizations that hold conventions in Detroit help the economy.”

Craig’s stance on guns, unusual for big-city police chiefs, made national news after he told The Detroit News in January that responsible gun owners could deter crime. He said he hasn’t yet heard criticism from fellow police chiefs about his views — “But I expect to,” he said.

“Privately, I’m sure some (chiefs) will agree with me,” Craig said. “There was a study done where 15,000 line officers were polled, and they overwhelmingly supported the right to carry.”

Craig, in a candid question-and-answer session for the NRA magazine America’s 1st Freedom insists he is not responsible for a rash of at least eight incidents in which residents have shot home intruders since January. He said self-defense shootings “actually started before I arrived here.”

“I believe responsible, good Americans have a right to protect themselves from an immediate threat to their life or to the life of another,” Craig says in the June web article titled “A Show of Courage in Detroit.” “I believe our focus should be on how to keep guns out of hands of criminals and those who aren’t responsible.”

Craig said he has noticed a “culture of violence” in Detroit since arriving in July as the top cop. In another statement, which is featured on the magazine cover next to his photograph he stresses: “We’re not advocating violence. We’re advocates of not being victims.”

And residents are listening, the magazine said, saying that “average citizens in harm’s way seem to have taken the advice to heart. …”

“It does appear more and more Detroiters are becoming empowered,” Craig says in the article, adding that he didn’t expect his stance to generate the controversy that it has. “I really didn’t, because it’s a Second Amendment-protected right.”

Police officials said Monday there have been 13 justifiable homicides by citizens so far this year — up 2 from the same period last year.

“This is something that’s been going on since before I got here,” he said. “Clearly, Detroiters are sick and tired of being victims.”