Indiana native plans to arm people in high crime areas

INDIANAPOLIS — A Texas-based group that wants to arm law-abiding residents in high crime neighborhoods with free shotguns plans to visit Indianapolis in the coming months.

The group called the Armed Citizen Project was founded by Indiana native Kyle Coplen in January as a part of his Master’s thesis. Coplen believes arming people can help them take back their neighborhoods from criminals.

“It’s my hypothesis that criminals don’t want to die in your hallway. And I believe that society should use that fear in order to deter crime.”

The group uses donations from across the nation to buy the guns. Anyone who is interested in the program must pass a background check and go through the group’s training before they receive a gun.

Coplen said he has already trained and several armed single women in Houston and plans on arming 50-100 people in a neighborhood by the end of April. Then he will take his program to other cities including Indianapolis. In fact, he said he already has several volunteers in the Circle City who are very excited to be a part of the program.

“I absolutely love the City of Indianapolis. I love the people there,” he told Fox 59 over the phone from Houston. “I’d really love to come and help them out to help deter crime in a City that I love.”

The areas Coplen is interested in would include some of the worst areas for crime, including a neighborhood where a deadly shootout killed one man and injured a Metro officer this week.

That’s concerning for people like Pastor Damon Roach who has been trying to remove weapons from the streets. While he realized what Coplen is doing is legal, he is afraid residents will sell their new shotguns and soon those legal weapons will become illegal. He believes more guns in the community is not the answer.

“I really think that it’ll have a heck of a reverse effect in communities with kids. Kids getting a hold of shotguns and shotguns going off… I just think that’s a dangerous precedent to set,” said Roach. He wants to reach out and have a conversation with Coplen before he arrives in the Circle City.

However, Coplen believes he’s helping people who cannot afford to defend themselves by empowering them in a very legal way.

“We’re creating new responsible gun owners and we’re arming them with defensive shotguns,” said Coplen. “We’re not just throwing a handful of AR15′s into a neighborhood and then driving away as fast as possible.”

The group doesn’t have an exact date for its trip to Indianapolis, but hopes to be here in the next few months.