Today with all of the panic and fret of gun control, buybacks, and bans, in a strange twist of fate a non-profit group is striving to (wait for it) put free shotguns and the training to use them in the hands of needy citizens. This organization calls itself the Armed Citizens Project.
Who is this group?
The Armed Citizens Project seems to be the brainchild of one Kyle Coplen, a University of Houston MPA grad student. Founded earlier this year the group is in the process of registering as a 501(c) (3) non-profit. According to its website "The Armed Citizen Project is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to training and arming residents in mid-high crime areas with defensive shotguns, for free! In training and arming law-abiding residents, we are saturating neighborhoods with defensive weapons, and measuring the effect that a heavily armed society has on crime rates."
CNN Interview with the Armed Citizens Project
How the program works
(The single shot shotgun is cheap, easy to figure out, and better than no gun at all)
At a cost of about $350 a person, the ACP intends to supply a single-shot hinge-break (think H&R Topper or NEF Pardner) shotgun, a cleaning kit, and a supply of slugs and buckshot to applicants to the program. The group chose this type of firearm because, besides being inexpensive and simple to master, they make poor targets for theft by criminals. The fact that this type of gun is legal in just about every possible jurisdiction if owned by a law-abiding citizen is also a bonus.
While you may be quick to state that the typical price of a single shot 12 at a Big Box runs about $100-ish, the program also includes background checks and training by a firearms instructor on how to use the gun. These guns pack a good kick, but the use of mini-shells, slip on buttpads and low-recoil slugs can help tame this.
This package is paid for not by the applicant to the program but through donations and pledges. It is not detailed on the group's website how much training will be involved but a minimum would be the 8-hour NRA Basic Shotgun course coupled with some training on weapon's retention, home firearm safety, and personal protection inside the home.
(Class photo from Armed Citizens Project website)
While the program started in Houston, it seems that the first chapter to put guns in the field could be in high-crime Tucson. There the group is headed publicly by local activist Shaun McClusky. Donors have pledged at least $12K to the project there so far, which is about enough to arm and train nearly forty candidates. They hope to stand the program up there and start training the first class in the next month or so.
It's arguable that McClusky, a former mayoral candidate for Tucson, is partially doing this for a political stunt in a high crime district for the sake of future votes. Even with this caveat, this interesting program could prove worthwhile in many ways.
Especially if it saves lives by putting guns in the hands of citizens who use them to defend themselves against predators.