HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) — A University of Houston graduate student says he’s conducting a study to hopefully answer the question being asked across the country, “Do more guns reduce crime or not?”
Kyle Coplen, who founded the Armed Citizens Project, is giving away 20-gauge single-shot shotguns to residents in mid- and high-crime neighborhoods to test whether or not the weapon will help reduce crime in the area, according to the group’s website. Coplen says the weapons are not of much value to criminals, but are especially useful for citizens looking to protect themselves from criminals.
“Gun-control advocates often argue that an increase in guns in an area will lead to an increase in crime, while gun-rights advocates often believe that fewer guns result in more crime. While both sides often argue that their opponents policies will result in more crime, gun-control proponents have largely been the victors when it comes to policy implementation,” the website explains. “Pro-gun activists have largely been content to simply fend off new potential gun control laws. It is my opinion that gun-rights activists must take the offensive, and actively encourage the increased presence of defensive weapons in society. Both sides believe that their policies will result in less crime, and it is about time that our side begins to act with the conviction and courage that it will take to win the debate.”
However, the unique experiment has specific criteria for determining who can receive the weapons from the Armed Citizens Project.
All recipients must first pass a background check and have lived in their current home for longer than one year. They must also pass a safety and tactical course offered by the group.
“We’re not just tossing a bunch of shotguns into a community and walking away,” Coplen told Fox 26. “What we’re doing is finding residents who are interested in protecting themselves. we’re not forcing guns on anyone.”
The group’s website states that the study’s goal is, “to find if there exists a causal link between an increase in the presence of firearms and the level of crime.”
The group is still analyzing data to determine which neighborhoods they will use for what is expected to be a year-long study.
In addition to arming citizens, the group hopes to counter local gun buyback programs and instead educate those who want to give up their weapons with training sessions, or have those weapons traded in for 20-gauge shotguns. “We want to reverse the flow of guns, to where they are flowing into a community, along with the necessary safety training and skills,” the site states.