On Tuesday Detroit Police Chief James Craig announced that Detroit would likely be spared a terrorist attack because so many of the city's residents are packing heat.
"A lot of Detroiters have CPLs (concealed pistol licenses), and the same rules apply to terrorists as they do to some gun-toting thug," Chief James Craig said, according to the Detroit News
. “If you’re a terrorist, or a carjacker, you want unarmed citizens."
To be clear, there have been no terrorist threats made against Detroit. However, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a statement to 18,000 law enforcement agencies (Detroit being one of them) last week warning that a deadly assault, a la the Paris terrorist attack that left 130 dead Nov. 13, could very well occur on US soil.
While it's unclear if Craig's full statement is true (more on that in a sec), one thing he said is definitely fact: "A lot of Detroiters" are carrying. According to an August article on Fox Detroit, in 2015 nearly 1,200 handgun permits were issued and 8,102 guns were registered with the Detroit Police Department. Six months into 2015, 500 permits had been issued and 5,000 guns registered. Michigan State Police told Detroit News that 30,000 Detroit residents are legally armed.
These facts — and Craig's statement for that matter — are generally in line with the zeitgeist of Craig's reign. For anyone following him, or the "new DPD
" under him, the comment is not exactly mind blowing. Craig has long been a proponent of Detroit citizens carrying guns. In December 2013, less than six months after taking the helm, the former Portland, Maine police chief made national headlines when he shared his belief that more armed citizens would help reduce Detroit's staggering crime rate. In many ways, Craig's new "terrorists don't fuck with Detroiter's because we all carry guns" statement (paraphrased, people) sort of brings everything full circle.
But do guns stop terrorists?
Although, Craig was speaking pretty specifically of an ISIS threat — responding to the FBI bulletin that followed the Paris attacks — the reality is mass murders, ISIS or not, have been on the rise
and many of the attacks happening in our own backyard (without the help of the Islamic State) could probably fall in category of a terrorist attack. Last weekend's siege on Colorado's Planned Parenthood, Dylan Roof's summer rampage at a historic black church in Charleston, last month's assault at a Black Lives Matter protest in Minnesota — they all carry the weight of that stomach curdling word "terrorism", which at its most basic definition is "the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims."
But even killing sprees without political aims can feel like terrorism, or at least have the same effects (lots of deaths). In June a westside block party turned awry resulted in 12 people shot and 1 killed. Craig at the time called
the incident an “act of urban terrorism.”
According to Mass Shooting Tracker
, a crowd-sourced database project started in 2013, this year there have been six mass shootings in Detroit ("mass shooting" are defined by the database as any instance where at least four people were shot in one event).
So back to the main question. Do guns stop terrorists and/or mass shootings? Let's look at the data.
In 2012 — a little dated, considering how many mass shootings we've seen since then, but bear with me — Mother Jones published a multi-part investigation
into mass shootings in America. Analyzing 62 incidents between 1982-2012, the team behind the report found that: "In not a single case was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun."
And when armed civilians do intervene? The report detailed two rampages (not included in the initial data set because less than four people died) where this happened. In both of those cases the civilians not only didn't succeed in stopping the shooter but were seriously injured or killed in their attempt to do so.
Beyond this the report points out that "there appears to be a relationship between the proliferation of firearms and a rise in mass shootings: By our count, there have been two per year on average since 1982. Yet, 25 of the 62 cases we examined have occurred since 2006. In 2012 alone there have been seven mass shootings, and a record number of casualties, with more than 140 people injured and killed."
This data sort of runs in the face of Craig's comment. It also negates the talking points of many of the GOP candidates who tout the need for more guns whenever we have a mass shooting (or the ones who used Paris as a time to make their political agenda heard as well). Since you've probably already noticed the parallels between Craig and GOP-ers I am going to plop the following quote below. Guess who said it. Craig, Donald Trump or Ben Carson?
“If you look at what happened in Paris, I’m not saying if more citizens had had guns it would have stopped the terrorists. But it sure might have helped."
It was Craig, but I wouldn't have blamed you if you guessed the two latter men. He also added, “If you’re sitting in a restaurant, and you aren’t allowed to have a gun, what are you supposed to do if someone comes in there shooting at you? Throw a fork at them?”
These comments, especially in light of the MJ analysis, makes the following news a bit hard to swallow. Despite that fact that it would seem more guns go hand in hand with more mass shootings, Michigan is making it even easier
for citizens in the state to get their hands on concealed gun permits. As of Tuesday individuals will no longer need the approval a three-member county gun board, but rather the thumbs up from your everyday county clerk. It's a win for the NRA, who views this as streamlining, which will get rid of, according to the Detroit News, "licensing delays and arbitrary denials."
Not surprisingly, Craig is a fan of the new state law.