James Craig just took over the office of police chief last summer, but he’s already making waves in Detroit. A reorganization of the police force in the bankrupt metropolis has resulted in a higher clearance rate in murder cases, and the murder rate dropped almost 14% in 2013 from its two-decade high in 2012. However, Craig has some advice for his fellow citizens in Motor City if they really want a drop in crime — arm yourselves:

If more citizens were armed, criminals would think twice about attacking them, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said Thursday.

Urban police chiefs are typically in favor of gun control or reluctant to discuss the issue, but Craig on Thursday was candid about how he’s changed his mind.

“When we look at the good community members who have concealed weapons permits, the likelihood they’ll shoot is based on a lack of confidence in this Police Department,” Craig said at a press conference at police headquarters, adding that he thinks more Detroit citizens feel safer, thanks in part to a 7 percent drop in violent crime in 2013.

Craig wasn’t always in favor of carry permits. While serving in Los Angeles, where permits are issued on a notoriously miserly (and some would add arbitrary) manner, Craig thought that disarmament was the answer. It wasn’t until he went to a carry-friendly jurisdiction that he understood the difference:

Craig said he started believing that legal gun owners can deter crime when he became police chief in Portland, Maine, in 2009.

“Coming from California (Craig was on the Los Angeles police force for 28 years), where it takes an act of Congress to get a concealed weapon permit, I got to Maine, where they give out lots of CCWs (carrying concealed weapon permits), and I had a stack of CCW permits I was denying; that was my orientation.

“I changed my orientation real quick. Maine is one of the safest places in America. Clearly, suspects knew that good Americans were armed.”

It’s not the first time that Craig has endorsed carry permits. Two weeks ago, the Detroit News notes, he told a local radio show that responsibly armed citizens act as a deterrent, in a city that can clearly use one. Even though the murder rate has dropped, Detroit had as many homicides in 2013 as New York City, which has more than ten times its population. Chicago had only 29 more than Detroit despite having nearly four times the population. It’s worth noting that both New York City and Chicago have extraordinary restrictions on gun ownership, let alone carry permits, and Chicago routinely ranks among the worst American metropolitan areas for homicides and violent crime.

At least one recent study suggests that Craig hits the nail on the head. A long-range study by a Quinnipiac University economist shows that states with more restrictions on firearm ownership and carry permits had higher murder rates by guns than gun-friendly states, and suggests that increasing restrictions on concealed-carry permits pushes the murder rate up, not down. It also showed that assault-weapons bans had no effect on murder rates.

Perhaps more police chiefs will change their orientation with this information at hand. State legislatures should get ahead of that curve.

Addendum: Via Instapundit, let’s not forget that increasing restrictions on gun ownership can be bad for the economy as well as the crime rate, as it will be in Colorado:

Magpul Industries announced today that it is relocating its operations to Wyoming and Texas.

The company is relocating manufacturing, distribution and shipping operations to Cheyenne, Wyoming. Magpul is leasing a 58,000 square foot manufacturing and distribution facility during the construction of a 100,000 square foot build-to-suit facility in the Cheyenne Business Parkway. The Wyoming relocation is being completed with support from Governor Matt Mead, the Wyoming Business Council and Cheyenne LEADS.

Magpul is moving its corporate headquarters to Texas. Three North Central Texas sites are under final consideration, and the transition to the Texas headquarters will begin as soon as the facility is selected. The Texas relocation is being accomplished with support from Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Economic Development Corporation.

“Magpul made the decision to relocate in March 2013 and has proceeded on an aggressive but deliberate path” says Doug Smith, Chief Operating Officer for Magpul Industries. “These dual moves will be carried out in a manner that ensures our operations and supply chain will not be interrupted and our loyal customers will not be affected.”

The company began a nationwide search for a new base of operations after legislation was enacted in Colorado that dramatically limits the sale of firearms accessories – the core of Magpul’s business. Magpul plans on initially transitioning 92% of its current workforce outside of Colorado within 12-16 months and will maintain only limited operations in Colorado.

“Moving operations to states that support our culture of individual liberties and personal responsibility is important,” says Richard Fitzpatrick, Chief Executive Officer for Magpul Industries. “This relocation will also improve business operations and logistics as we utilize the strengths of Texas and Wyoming in our expansion.”