A Houston-based nonprofit organization — the Armed Citizen Project — is offering free gun training and free shotguns to selected residents of Oak Forest, a high-crime neighborhood in Houston, Texas. The founder of the organization — Kyle Coplen — plans to expand the Armed Citizen Project to high-crime cities throughout the country.

According to Thomas Jefferson, “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” While the most important purpose of the Second Amendment is to protect the right of citizens to oppose governmental tyranny, a strong subsidiary purpose is to protect the right of citizens to defend themselves against criminals. In the words of the Kyle Coplen,

“We’re coming — and we’re going to get shotguns into the hands of responsible citizens,” said Kyle Coplen, who founded the nonprofit Armed Citizen Project in January.

“When criminals fear the citizenry, it deters crime,” the 29-year-old added.

In a personal interview, Kyle Coplen explained why he is enthusiastic about the training provided by the Armed Citizen Project:

I’m a constitutionalist, and I take pride in helping to create the next generation of freedom-loving Americans who are trained to use a shotgun and to understand and appreciate the Second Amendment of our Constitution. The training we provide with the shotgun helps to make the Second Amendment tangible, and we see the shotgun as a “gateway weapon” that opens up the possibility for citizens to learn how to use a handgun, to get a concealed handgun license, and even to learn how to use a semi-automatic weapon.

The first implementation of the Armed Citizen Project is now taking place in the Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston, Texas:

Kyle Coplen, the project’s 29-year-old founder said his group expects to train at least 50 Oak Forest residents and put up signs saying the neighborhood is armed.

“When we have a crime wave, we don’t just say let’s just increase police and that’s all we do. We do multiple things. I see this as one aspect of what we can do,” said Coplen, who graduated from the University of Houston with a master’s degree in public administration.

It costs the organization about $300 to arm and train an individual and about $20,000 for an entire neighborhood. All costs are paid through donations, said Coplen, though he declined to say how much his organization has raised so far.

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