A University of Houston graduate student is doing an unusual study. He's going to give away 20-gauge single-shot shotguns in high-crime neighborhoods to see if it reduces crime.
"We're not just tossing a bunch of shotguns into a community and walking away," says Kyle Coplen. "What we're doing is finding residents who are interested in protecting themselves. we're not forcing guns on anyone."
He's started a group called the Armed Citizens Project. Here's the criteria for residents to get guns straight from its website:
All citizens of the area that wish to receive a weapon must pass a background check and have lived in their current home for over one year. Those receiving a weapon will do so upon completion of our safety and tactical course, which we will administer.
Arming specific blocks in mid- to high-crime areas through using existing crime data, we will decide on a few areas that will be a fit with this project.
All participants that wish to receive a weapon, and take our training, will receive one break-over 20-gauge shotgun, which holds one shell at a time.
Pursue a media strategy that will ensure that we will increase the broader communities' awareness of these zones.
The goal is to find if there exists a causal link between an increase in the presence of firearms and the level of crime.
Progressive radio host Geoff Berg says is the dumbest idea he's ever heard. He says it might reduce crime. "But That's not really what underlies all of this. This is an attempt to score political points and maybe make a profit in exchange for the risk those firearms pose inside those homes," he says. He believes the giveaway of guns will increase the number of suicides, and accidents.
Coplen says they haven't decided what neighborhood to try. The group is currently analyzing crime data. Coplen says they will probably have a neighborhood picked out in a month. The study will take a year.