Target: Armed Citizen Project
Goal: Protest the distribution of free shotguns in a mid- to high-crime neighborhood in Tucson, Arizona.
Texas-based nonprofit The Armed Citizen Project is planning on giving free shotguns to residents of Tucson, Arizona. “This is about public safety,” said Shaun McClusky, a Tucson realtor who launched the effort. “This is about people protecting themselves.” He has so far raised enough money for 36 shotguns. Protest this absurd plan to give away free guns during a time of fierce gun-control debates.
McClusky plans to give away each shotgun with a lock and safety training. He claims that because the shotguns are single-shot weapons, it will be unlikely that criminals will want them. Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik has protested the program, saying, “To suggest that giving guns to people in high crime neighborhoods will make them safer is ridiculous. I think it’s dangerous.”
The Tucson program is part of a broader one based in Houston, where the Armed Citizen Project hopes to demonstrate that neighborhood crime rates drop when a higher percentage of residents are armed and trained. According to its website: “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.”
As a nation focusing on the rise of gun violence and mass shootings considers new gun laws, the suggestion that the answer lies in more guns is ridiculous and appalling. The logic seems so flawed as to be worthy of dismissal, and the actuality of an imminent gun-giveaway is alarming. The rationale seems to be based on repeated claims that stricter gun control laws don’t prevent crime, but that higher crime rates are usually the result. In early 2013, Texas Junior Senator Ted Cruz made this claim. Wayne LaPierre, head of the National Rifle Association, said the same thing in 2011.
While the claims were both proven false by special interest groups and fact-checkers, their repetition can lead people to believe that only armed resistance can deter crime. This quickly becomes a slippery slope, and the movement could progress from armed individuals to armed teachers to armed neighborhoods. Reducing gun violence will be a long and arduous struggle for the nation, but encouraging the armament of citizens in the name of defense is not a viable solution. In the words of Koazchik, it’s more of a “solution seeking a problem.” Protest the ludicrous idea that only more guns can deter gun violence.
Dear Armed Citizen Project,
Gun violence in our nation has been highlighted by several tragic mass-shootings in recent years, among them the shooting of former congressman Gabrielle Giffords by Jared Loughner in 2011. Six people died in that shooting and twelve others were injured in addition to Giffords. Recently, it has come to light that the father of the mentally-disturbed shooter had taken a shotgun away from him after he was suspended from Pima Community College amid concerns over his mental health. Loughner is a striking example of someone who never should have had access to a gun, and he underscores the need for more rigorous gun control laws.
Now, in the city that is still reeling from that tragedy, you, the Armed Citizen Project, are proposing to give away free shotguns to residents of mid to high crime neighborhoods, as part of an effort to measure the effect of a heavily armed society on crime rates. It boggles my mind as to how you can have the audacity to suggest pouring more guns into communities as part of a “study” to determine the effect on crime rates that having more guns available will have. The sheer ease of obtaining a gun in this nation is already under scrutiny, and you propose to give them away for free?
You claim to be “tired of the blatant manipulation and politicization of statistics when it comes to the relationship between firearms and safety,” and yet much of the manipulation has come from the pro-gun establishment, from senators, from the NRA, who claim that strict gun control laws don’t lessen crime, and that jurisdictions with stricter laws “almost without exception… have the highest crime rates and the highest murder rates.” These claims have been proven to be false, and they are clear examples of the “blatant manipulation” that you decry.
I urge you to abandon this shotgun giveaway program. Every gun on the street endangers a life, and the answer to gun violence does not lie in increasing the availability of guns.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Integrated Logistics Support Center via Wikimedia Commons