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Purportedly Nonpartisan Houston Nonprofit Seeks to Arm Neighborhoods, Observe Effects

Let's hand out free shotguns and see what happens. Nothing could possibly go wrong.
Let's hand out free shotguns and see what happens. Nothing could possibly go wrong.

Over the weekend, the AP ran a story centered just outside the Loop, in a north Houston neighborhood called Oak Forest. Nestled against TC Jester Park and I-45, Oak Forest is one of Houston's older enclaves. And until recently, it had been one of the more placid.

However, a string of recent crimes -- characterized aptly as "driveway holdups" -- have turned the neighborhood skittish. According to certain residents, Houston police have warned residents not to go out at night. Goods have been jacked. Nerves have been frayed. Masked gunmen have run with impunity.

As one resident said, "If you don't have a gun, you're just a walking victim. You're just waiting for somebody to take advantage of you and your property."

(It's like that famous Glenn Beck quote: "The truth is that guns on so many occasions are the only difference between your mom or sister getting raped and them walking home unmolested." The only difference.)

(And as another parenthetical aside: Is this woman joking? Is this quote a satire? Is this Wayne LaPierre's wife?)

Fortunately, there's one nonprofit that wants to help. The Armed Citizens Project, a Houston-based organization, sees it as its mission to arm those defenseless; to aid those in need; and to threaten the superstitious, cowardly lot that would prey on those law-abiding citizens in areas like Oak Forest.

As the group's mission statement says,

The Armed Citizen Project is dedicated to facilitating the arming of law abiding citizens, and analyzing the relationship between increased firearm availability and rates [sic]. We are choosing mid-high crime neighborhoods in cities across America, and offering defensive weapons to citizens that can pass a background check, and that will take our safety, legal, and tactical training.

And when they mean "offer," as the AP refers to that measure, they mean it -- they're not looking for any compensation. The ACP guys, helmed by 29-year-old Kyle Coplen, are set to give residents of Oak Forest free weaponry, provided they can pass necessary checks.   The weapons and requisite training come to approximately $300 per person, and have been financed through previous donations. And ACP won't be heading solely to Oak Forest -- they're also planning on offering training courses in Dallas, San Antonio and, of all locations, Tucson, Arizona. We're sure those in Tucson have no aversion to the sights and sounds and effects of such massed weaponry. Not at all.

As it is, ACP is purportedly after a "police study" in which they'll monitor correlation between armament and crime rates in certain neighborhoods. (They claim that they "are not going to get involved in the debate as to what measures we would support," but that's seemingly debunked by their banner-screaming motto of "Deterring Crime by Empowering Neighborhoods." Can't have your bullets and fire them too, guys.) And, shit, who knows -- maybe they are after some further data collection. Hair Balls would welcome it.

But this simply seems like corrosive overkill. We're not entirely sure why a nonprofit -- one sponsored by Gun Storage Solutions and the hard-right Stand Up America, among other weapons providers -- believes it is incumbent upon itself to illustrate purported holes in social scientific findings. Perhaps they missed the 2013 Journal of American Medicine study illustrating the markedly positive correlation between household firearm ownership and firearm-related deaths. Perhaps they think they can offer some form of controlled, scientific survey where others have failed. (Perhaps they're also stuck with the confused notion that gun ownership rights somehow correlate with democratic freedoms.)

Or perhaps, as evidenced by their sponsorships, marketing and entire raison d'être, they've already made up their minds.


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