A controversial home-defense project will be hitting the streets of Houston soon.
The effort, called the Armed Citizen Project, seeks to give shotguns to residents of moderate and high-crime neighborhoods. University of Houston graduate student Kyle Coplen came up with the idea, and he hopes that because he's publicizing it, criminals will be scared off from targeting the neighborhoods where shotguns have been distributed.
"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 project's gun of choice will be a single-shot shotgun.
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"They're pretty inexpensive, easy to learn how to use and they make good home defense weapons," Coplen said.
The program recently sent representatives to over 400 homes in the Houston area, offering them the opportunity to acquire one of the shotguns and receive firearm training. Coplen says the project hopes to provide around 100 of the residents with a shotgun in the near future.
“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.
In order to qualify for a gun, residents must first bass a background check and receive firearms training. Residents must also have lived at their current address for at least a year.
Houston residents have mixed reactions to the program.
"If people know in a community that some have weapons, how would they guess whose home to go to rob?” resident Bill Scott said, speaking in support of the program.
Others are concerned that more guns in the community will result in higher levels of violence.
"No, that will increase more guns for the streets," said opponent Jose Morerro.
The Armed Citizen Project has previously introduced free gun programs in Tucson, Arizona, as well. Coplen hopes to eventually arm residents in New York, Chicago, Detroit and at least 10 other cities.