As a resident of the Tucson area, I have seen several local news reports about the “Armed Citizen Project,” an organization which plans to distribute free shotguns to low income residents of high crime areas. I looked into the project further, and do not like it. Here is why.
– The shotguns they choose are single shot break actions. The usefulness of this type of firearm for defense is debatable, but several of their stated reasons for selecting it are fallacious.
The single shot break action is chosen because it is supposedly of high value in defense, has a low risk of unintentional discharge, and would not be appealing to a criminal if it were stolen.
I beg to differ on several points. Criminals don’t particularly care about the quality or effectiveness of the weapons they use, and neither will their victims. In many cases, a firearm is to a criminal as much a tool for intimidation as it is for fighting. For the same reason that an intruder might be scared at the sight of a shotgun barrel, an unarmed, unsuspecting civilian would be scared of that firearm pointed at them by a random scumbag.
In addition, I am unaware of any statistics which show that a break action shotgun is safer than other types of firearms. From an objective standpoint, if the firearm is to be kept ready or semi-ready for defensive purposes, it must by design have a shell in the chamber.
Contrast this with a pump action shotgun, which may have a loaded magazine tube and an empty chamber. When the user is properly trained and familiarized with their firearm, this is probably not an issue. But that brings me to my second major problem with ACP.
– Only residents that take Armed Citizen Project’s “tactical training” will be given a firearm. However, the following is found on their site when describing the effectiveness of a shotgun:
I consider this weapon a hallway gun. If a home invader enters my home, this weapon is sufficient to cast a large spread that is capable significant damage, while reducing the potential of innocent bystander damage, due to the fact that the shot will not likely travel through walls or over longer distances without losing great amounts of energy. I can simply point 15 feet down my hallway, while aimed in the general direction of the intruder, and fire a shot that may take care of the problem.
What type of shot? Buckshot will penetrate plenty of interior walls, and birdshot is not sufficient to quickly stop 160-220lb mammals with dense muscle and bone. Even so, it’ll go through one wall with enough energy to cause injury on the other side.
No type of shot I have ever tested will spread enough inside the hallway of a small home or apartment to be fired in “the general direction” of an intruder with a reasonable expectation that it will incapacitate said intruder, let alone at 15 feet as stated on the ACP website. Doing so is a recipe for disaster, especially inside what may be a poorly constructed dwelling with multiple innocents in all directions.
Furthermore, any person who would make such statements and advocate such behavior displays an appalling lack of knowledge of and experience with firearms. I would not advise that anyone undergo training on use of force or even basic weapons manipulation from such an individual.
However well-meaning the people behind this project may be, they are going about this endeavor entirely wrong. If they manage to carry out their project, it is my opinion that the recipients – as well as their neighbors – will be put at risk, not protected.