Grad Student Giving Away Shotguns in High-Crime Neighborhoods: An armed society, a polite society? (VIDEO)

Gun owners often trumpet the cliché: “An armed society is a polite society.”  But is this true?  Do more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens reduce crime rates?

Kyle Coplen, a graduate student and the University of Houston, is hoping to get an answer to that question.

Along with other pro-Second Amendment advocates, Coplen founded the Armed Citizens Project, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to “deterring crime by empowering citizens.”

In other words, the group’s mission is to arm non-gun owning individuals living in dangerous neighborhoods with single-shot 20 gauge shotguns, enroll these individuals into gun safety training programs and then study the impact this arming/training venture has on crime rates.

(On a side note, one can argue that they took VP Joe Biden’s message to heart when he spoke about self-defense at an online Facebook Q&A session earlier this week, Biden told everyone to “Get a shotgun.”)

From the website:

The Armed Citizen Project is dedicated to facilitating the arming of law abiding citizens, and analyzing the relationship between increased firearm availability and rates.  We intend to choose a mid-high crime neighborhood in Houston, and offer defensive weapons to citizens that can pass a background check, and that will take our safety, legal and tactical training.

Coplen spoke with FOX 26 about the initiative and the research he hopes to gather as part of this public safety experiment.

“We’re not just tossing a bunch of shotguns into a community and walking away,” said Coplen. “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.”

It’s an interesting question, one that’s been investigated and discussed a number of times on  From the research available, one definitely sees a negative correlation between gun ownership and crime rates.  That is, as gun ownership and concealed carry participation has increased over the past two decades, crime (property crime, violent crime, the homicide rate) has uniformly decreased.


Crime Rates

Concealed Carry Expansion

Concealed Carry Expansion

Though, demonstrating a causal relationship has always proved to be an elusive feat due to the complex nature of crime, there are so many crime inputs that proving one factor (i.e. gun ownership) reigns supremely influential is difficult both methodologically and empirically.

Consequently most honest criminologists and social scientists will concede that more guns in the hands of law-abiding gun owners will not increase crime rates, but will stop short of suggesting that increased gun ownership positively reduces crime.

With that said, gun owners should be at the very least intrigued by Coplen’s initiative.  It will undoubtedly give us another lens through which we can view the hotly debated politics of gun ownership in America.

For the “About Us” page on the Armed Citizen Project website:

We are a group of citizens that believe in the crime deterring abilities of firearms.

We believe that criminals are less likely to enter a home if they believe the resident/neighbor is armed and prepared to defend life and property.

We believe that criminals have no desire to die in your hallway, and that we should exploit that fear in order to deter crime.

We believe that the Second Amendment means what it says, and that an armed citizenry is to be desired.

We believe in the right of a free people to feel secure in their own home, by exercising their second amendment rights and the right to self defense.

We believe that deadly force can be appropriate, and that trained and responsible citizens are able to make that judgement for themselves.

We believe that Joe Horn is the ideal neighbor.

We believe that gun-control has its roots in oppression.

We believe in the letter and spirit of the Castle Doctrine, and support its adoption in all 50 states.

We believe in Americans.

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