Citizens Take Self-Defense Into Own Hands

By Dave Gahary

Evidence is amassing revealing a startling trend emerging across the nation. More and more citizens are taking up arms and using deadly force to defend themselves against assailants as police are no longer able to respond in a timely manner due to the massive budget cuts brought on by the Wall Street-and Washington-engineered financial collapse.

This reverses a trend in the decade prior to the onset of the economic downturn, which saw the number of “justifiable homicides” decline by 13  percent. “Justifiable homicide” is a legal term used to describe a situation in which a person had no alternative method of self-defense (or defense of another) than to kill the attacker.

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Although 32 states have statutes that provide their residents “no duty to retreat,” justifiable homicide is considered a gray area. There is no clear legal standard for a homicide to be considered justifiable.

According to the 183-page report on homicide patterns and trends in the U.S. since 1976 by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), a homicide may be considered justified if it is done to prevent a very serious crime, such as rape, armed robbery, manslaughter or murder. The BJS, part of the DoJ, collects, analyzes and publishes data gathered from the 50,000 agencies that comprise the U.S. justice system, relating to crime in the U.S.

In certain areas of the U.S., the deterioration in public law enforcement services has become so pronounced that affluent Americans are hiring private contractors—also known as mercenaries—to patrol their streets and to provide other security services once reserved exclusively for public police forces. Business for these types of firms is booming, according to an online article in the news website “The Daily.” Companies such as Threat Management Center and Recon Management Group have sprung from the city most well known for cars and murder: Detroit.

Detroit, with a population of around 700,000 and falling (the population in 1950 was 1,849,568), saw homicides rise by 10 percent in 2011, the second highest per capita in the country only behind Philadelphia, Pa., according to FBI crime statistics. The rise in homicides coincided with a decrease in the number of cops on the beat, which has plummeted from around 5,000 in 2000 to around 2,800 today.

To add to the sense of lawlessness in the Motor City, the Detroit Police Department (DPD) rolled out a plan this year restricting public access to precinct and district headquarters after 4 p.m. DPD response times have suffered, climbing to an average 24 minutes compared to a 10 minute average in comparable cities.

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Against this backdrop, justifiable homicides in Detroit increased 79 percent in 2011 from 2010, soaring 2,200 percent above the national average. The latest census figures show Detroit is 83 percent black, 7 percent white, 7 percent Hispanic and about 3 percent Asian and other races.

According to the BJS report, “Homicide victimization rates for blacks were six times higher than the rates for whites,” and, “Offending rates for blacks were more than seven times higher than the rates for whites.” Also identified in the report was the eye-popping fact that although the “young black male proportion of the population has remained at about 1 percent . . . their proportion of homicide offenders is 25 percent of the total.”

An Internet comment posted underneath an article on this subject by a reader from Cincinnati, Ohio says it all: “I carry a gun, because a cop is too heavy.”
Dave Gahary, a former submariner in the U.S. Navy, is the host of AFP’s “Underground Interview” series. See for more.