Retired cop James Jackson, left, and Keith Hines are citizen-patrol partners in Jefferson-Chalmers, Detroit. Photo via The Daily

The days of the wild, wild west when citizens would take up arms and protect their families from bandits seems like a theme of the past, but a growing trend among Detroit residents finds that many are turning to Second Amendment solutions to counteract a lack of police assistance.

According to a new article by the online newspaper, The Daily, justifiable homicide rates in Detroit increased by 79 percent in 2011 (from 19 people killed in 2010 to 34 people in 2011) as many residents have armed themselves to make up for a lack of police protection. Unable to rely on a police force stricken by budget cuts and layoffs (there are just 3000 officers to protect a city of 700,000), self-defense killings in the city are at an all-time high and are 2,200 percent higher than the national average.

One resident, Julia Brown, likened the uptick in armed residents to the Old West.

“We got to have a little Old West up here in Detroit. That’s what it’s gonna take,” Brown informed The Daily. The 73-year-old woman told the paper the last time she called the police, they didn’t show up until the next day. After that, she applied for a permit to carry a gun, vowing not to be a victim of the troublemakers who are terrorizing her neighborhood.

“I don’t intend to be one of their victims,” she said. “I’m planning on taking one out.”

Brown isn’t the only one thinking of taking the law into her own hands.

The Daily reports:

One high-ranking official in the county legal system, speaking to The Daily, said the rise in justifiable homicides mirrors a local court system that’s increasingly lenient of the practice.

“It’s a lot more acceptable now to get your own retribution,” the official said. “And the justice system in the city is a lot more understanding if people do that. It‘s becoming a part of the culture.”

Detroiters are arming themselves with shotguns and handguns and buying guard dogs. Anything to take care of their own. And privately, residents say neighborhood watch groups in Detroit are widely armed. 

“It’s like the militiamen who stepped up way back when. That’s where the neighborhood folks are,” said James “Jackrabbit” Jackson, a 63-year-old retired Detroit cop who has patrolled the Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood for years.

“They’re ready to fight,” Jackson said. “We don’t hardly see police anymore.”

The city’s wealthier enclaves have hired private security firms. Intimidating men in armored trucks patrol streets lined with gracious old homes in a scene more likely seen in Mexico City than the United States.

While some residents have armed themselves and set up citizen patrols, others have decided it’s safer to move. After being robbed a gunpoint in his upper-middle class neighborhood, Kevin Early–the director of the criminal justice studies program at the University of Michigan’s Dearborn campus–decided to move.

Detroit has had it rough over the years: unemployment, mismanaged city funds, and layoffs have continued to plague the city. Despite this, however, the residents of the D have been resilient, working hard to not only protect what they’ve built over the years, but working to rebuild the city they love.

What do you think about people taking the law into their own hands? 

  • almondjoy

    ‘Taking the law into your own hands,’ to me, lends an illegality to what appears to be a completely legal phenomenon; Detroiters packing heat to protect themselves, which is a granted right in this country. The police can only be called TO a crime (or an impending one). How many cops you know arrive before and/or when a crime occurs? I support the people of Detroit as they take legal measures to protect themselves. They can call the police (to make the arrest or collect the body) after they shoot the SOBs attempting to harm them, instead of waiting to be rescued.

  • chanela

    hell i do nottttt blame them!! i think everybody should know how to defend themselves….. especially women! i think women should stay armed at all times. with a non lethal weapons like stun guns. (pepper spray isn’t too effective because #1 some people are immune to the burning of pepper spray and #2 if its a windy day you might end up getting the spray in your eyes)

    i personally want to carry a small gun,take up some martial arts so i can be able to maim a grown man so i can get away without being followed, and i also want to start carrying a stun gun.

    i currently carry a knife. very very very important to defend yourself cause juts like in the article, sometimes nobody else will… even the police! i did a youtube video on how ladies should stay strapped : )

  • Tonton Michel

    An armed society is a polite society.

  • MsQuita

    Gotta do what ya gotta do.

  • ruggie

    That’s what the Second Amendment is for, do what you must.

  • O’Phylia

    Alternative Titles for this Article:

    “Detroiters Have Common Sense;”

    “Detroit Citizens Know Better;”

    And my personal favorite:


  • sli

    That 73 year-old woman ain’t playin’, “I’m planning on taking one out.” Go ‘head, grandma–get ‘em.

  • Nicole

    I live outside of Detroit but I go there daily. I cant say that I agree with them, but I do understand where their coming from.

    The police here do not protect us; their to busy taking drug dealers weed so they can smoke it themselves and hitting on women. I have a cop who pulls me over daily just to say “Miss how are you doing today” when he should be out doing his job.

  • Karen

    I applaud them for protecting themselves and their property. We lived in Newark and my father had a gun. He always said, “I’d rather have 12 men judge me than have 6 carry me”. Meaning he’d rather take his chances in court after shooting someone that was trying kill him than have that criminal kill him.

  • malik hemmans

    yep, its called intelligence

  • nikita

    Its something out of an Octavia Butler novel-*Parable of the sower*-Is this what America is coming to?;Abandoned cities,marauding criminals,armed citizens, do nothing police? Ms. Butler called it. Lets see what the next city is.

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