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Free shotguns for residents in high crime neighborhoods

Monday, April 29, 2013
Armed Citizen Project is a Houston nonprofit that is giving away free shotguns to single women and residents of neighborhoods with high crime rates.

A plan to give people in Houston some extra protection is going on now, with free shotguns being given to them. It's part of a project started by a University of Houston grad student.

The Armed Citizen Project will be arming people in northwest Houston, in neighborhoods near the Northwest Freeway and Loop 610. The idea is to arm those in medium and high crime areas who don't currently have a weapon at home. Publicizing this, they hope, will be a deterrent to criminals who would otherwise target them.

Very soon, more shotguns will be in the hands of homeowners in one northwest Houston neighborhood.

"They're pretty inexpensive, easy to learn how to use and they make good home defense weapons," explained Kyle Coplen, founder of the Armed Citizen Project.

The Armed Citizen Project is planning to use private donations to give away the shotguns to 50 to 100 people after they pass background check and complete training.

"It's our hypothesis that criminals do not want to die in your hallway," Coplen said. "We think that society should use that fear to deter crime."

The Armed Citizen Project has identified what it calls medium and high crime neighborhoods, like the one bounded by 43rd and Acorn, Antoine and Randon. The program sent mailers offering the shotguns and training to people in the 400 homes in the area. Coplen says they hope to get weapons into the hands of one quarter of them who might currently be without.

"We're giving folks the tools with which to defend their life, liberty and property, training them how to use the weapons and empowering citizens," Coplen said.

The Armed Citizen Project has previously provided weapons to single mothers and senior citizens but never before have attempted to arm a significant portion of a single neighborhood. Once complete they plan to put up signs alerting would be criminals to the armed population in the hope of deterring crime here. Some homeowners support the idea.

Resident Bill Scott said, "If people know in a community that some have weapons, how would they guess whose home to go to rob."

Others, however, worry about the addition of weapons in the neighborhood.

"No, that will increase more guns for the streets," said opponent Jose Moreno.

Again the weapons are only being given to those who pass a background check and participate in safety, legal and tactical training.

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