Free shotguns given away to help fight crime in Houston

February 23, 2013 9:55:03 AM PST
What's missing in high crime areas? More guns? One Houston man's controversial experiment is training and arming women to protect themselves for free.

As the debate over gun control heats up in Washington, one Houstonian's plan is to give away shotguns to women in crime-stricken neighborhoods. He wants to train them to be ready for the worst.

Kyle Coplen with the Armed Citizen Project said, "If someone does break into your house, you don't really need to be an expert marksman to shoot down your hallway and hit them."

The man behind this free shotgun idea says he's not concerned with second amendment debates right now. He's says he wants to give away shotguns to test whether it helps reduce crime. For about a month now, Coplen's been on a mission.

"We're looking at deterring crime by empowering citizens," he said.

A mission, Coplen says, to help Houstonians protect themselves and their homes by offering up free 20-gauge shotguns. It's all through Coplen's new non-profit called the Armed Citizens Project.

They're easy to use, easy to learn how to use," Coplen said. "They're not very expensive. And they are just all-around great home defense weapons."

Coplen, who's a University of Houston grad student, says the free shotgun idea grew from a paper he wrote for his masters of public administration program.

"I have a passion for policy analysis," he said. "We want to try to look at the link between crime and increasing firearms in the community."

Coplen says the free shotguns would be purchased primarily with donations to his non-profit and given to law-abiding single women and others who feel vulnerable living in crime ridden residential areas.

"For example, to start with, we are probably going to pick a 4-square-block area, mid to high crime and we are going to offer all residence that live within that area, if they can pass a background check, and if they'll take our safety, legal and tactical training courses, we'll give them for free one single break, breakover shotgun," Coplen said.

Coplen says the Armed Citizens Project will use Houston police statistics to analyze and pinpoint neighborhoods eligible for the shotgun giveaway.

A spokesman from the Houston Police Department tells Eyewitness News the chief has no comment about this controversial program.

Coplen says he wants to make it clear that his organization has no affiliation with the University of Houston. Coplen says so far one woman has completed the training and is armed with a donated shotgun.