Armed Citizen Project proposes giving guns to Chicago residents

Armed Citizen Project proposes giving free guns to Chicago residents

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said Monday that the answer to gun violence is not more guns, in response to a pro-gun group's suggestion of giving away free shotguns in the city.

Texas-based Armed Citizen Project made that controversial announcement at the National Rifle Association's annual meeting over the weekend. The organization has Chicago and New York in its sights as high priority cities.

Armed Citizen gives away shotguns to people who sign up, and already has given out 25 guns in Houston and Tucson. The free guns went to single moms and other people they considered vulnerable, and were paid for with private donations.

McCarthy came to the and Loomis location on Monday to talk about how the decreased murder rate in Chicago, the effectiveness department's crime-fighting strategy and officer deployment plan and how many illegal guns they have taken off the streets.

But when the news conference turned to the gun rights group's suggestion, the superintendent reiterated his stance on the subject.

"I said it before, I'll say it again. The answer to gun violence isn't more guns," McCarthy said. "The answer to gun violence is reasonability in gun laws, restricting illegal guns reaching the streets in the hands of criminals."

Chicago's gun turn-in program has collected thousands of weapons thus far. But city violence is still very prevalent in Chicagoans' minds.

Armed Citizen Project said guns prevent crime, and the group uses crime statistics to decide who gets a free shotgun. The organization will have to research whether it's legal to do it in Chicago.

The founder, who grew up in Indiana, appeared in a video recorded at the NRA convention in Houston.

"As long as they can pass a background check," Armed Citizen Project founder Kyle Coplen said. "One free pump shotgun for their defense."

As powerful as pump action shotguns are, keeping one at home for self-defense was not the first choice of residents we talked to at this CTA rapid transit station. It's used by many residents of Auburn Gresham, a South Side neighborhood that one website last week labeled Chicago's most dangerous.

"A handgun, maybe. Not a shotgun. That's too much," one woman told our cameras about the proposal.

It's precisely too much for the bad guys, according to Texas gun rights activist Kyle Coplen. So far, he's given three dozen shotguns to residents of the high-crime Houston suburb, Oak Forest, with a murder rate about two and a half times the American average. It's a pilot program for what he said he'd like to start doing in a Chicago neighborhood by the end of the year.

"Once we hit a critical threshold of folks armed in that neighborhood, we're going to put signs up in the area around that neighborhood warning criminals that they are more likely to get shot is they do a home invasion crime in that area," Kyle Coplen explains.

Armed Citizen Project solicits donations of money and weapons. Its Facebook page said the group is looking for good Chicagoans to make it happen here.

Some Chicago residents have already commented that they will sign up to try to get a shotgun.

Kyle Coplen and his Armed Citizen Project vowed to overcome any objections from McCarthy and Mayor Emanuel, noting scornfully that gun-toting Houston -- with a population only a bit smaller than Chicago -- had 216 murders last year compared to more than 500 here. NYC, too, one of lowest murder rates of any city.

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