Update: Kyle Coplen contacted us to say that the ACP will be supplying participants with pump-action shotguns. If you want to help out with a donation or a pump-action shotgun, head over to their website to see how you can contribute.
Last weekend at the NRA Annual Meeting, the Armed Citizen Project (ACP) announced their plans to expand to Chicago for their next city. To-date the ACP has not operated outside of their home state of Texas.
The plan is to arm law-abiding citizens, particularly single women and mothers, who pass a background check and a firearm training course. They will be given shotguns if they pass both.
The ACP’s idea is that arming vulnerable people may have a positive impact on crime rates, making things safer for everyone.
“We’re not just tossing a bunch of shotguns into a community and walking away,” said Kyle Coplen, University of Houston grad student and ACP leader. “What we’re doing is finding residents who are interested in protecting themselves. We’re not forcing guns on anyone.”
With respect to the research aspect of the project, the goal is to “find if there exists a causal link between an increase in the presence of firearms and the level of crime.”
In expanding the project to Chicago, the organization faces new challenges but may also see the most impact on crime. The ACP will have to tread carefully about the city’s extreme gun control laws if they expect to take on one of the most violent cities in America.
“It’s our hypothesis that criminals do not want to die in your hallway. We think that society should use that fear to deter crime,” said Coplen. “We’re giving folks the tools with which to defend their life, liberty and property, we’re training them how to use the weapons and empowering citizens.”
They have received both praise and criticism for their efforts.
After establishing a foothold in Tuscon, city councilman Steve Kozachik said, “To suggest that giving away … loaded shotguns in high-crime areas will make anybody safer is pure idiocy. This is coming from a purported leader in the local Republican Party, the same group who last year auctioned off a Glock and a rifle as fundraisers. Now they’re giving them away in our community? They’re totally out of touch with the values of this city.”
But it isn’t just the anti-gun community who has spoken out against the project. In the past, others have questioned the ACP’s means, if not motive. Originally the ACP spoke of supplying single-shot break-action shotguns to those who sign up for the program.
Speaking to the ACP’s shotgun choice and limited training goals, firearms expert Andrew Tuohy made a few comments, saying “However well-meaning the people behind this project may be, they are going about this endeavor entirely wrong,” questioning the effectiveness of single-shot shotguns.
We’re happy to report that the ACP has changed their course and their firearm selection. Coplen contacted us to let us know that “We are giving out pump-action shotguns.” These guns have been a staple in the world of home defense for decades and show no signs of slowing down.
It will be interesting to see what effect this project will have even in the short-run, especially if they make it into Chicago.