Solution to Tucson's high-crime areas - free shotguns? - Fox 2 News Headlines

Solution to Tucson's high-crime areas - free shotguns?

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TUCSON, Ariz. -

A former Tucson mayoral candidate is looking to arm entire neighborhoods in an effort to deter crime. Some have called the idea ludicrous.

He wants to use private donations to arm those in crime-ridden areas.

The program is the brainchild of a University of Houston masters student, and it's now expanding to Tucson. They anticipate being in 15 cities by the end of the year and right now are evaluating Phoenix.

"Basically we are going in to high- and mid-crime areas. We will be arming citizens with shotguns. They are single break action shotguns," says Shaun McClusky, Volunteer Armed Citizen Project.

Faced with a short-staffed police department that admittedly has issues with slow response times on certain calls, former Tucson mayoral candidate Shaun McClusky is collecting donations to help arm citizens.

"They will pass the background check, they will go through a safety and training class, they will go through a cleaning class, a gun handling class and then eventually we'll have them do some shooting as well."

The program is an extension of the "Armed Citizens Project" started in Houston last month. The idea in part is to measure the effects of firearms on crime.

"We're purchasing the guns with them in the store. Basically it's a donation and the weapon will transfer with them after they do the background check and everything else."

Right now, the gun giveaway is targeting places like the Grant Campbell area, Pueblo Gardens and Midvale Park, but the president of the neighborhood association says it's unfairly targeting south Tucson neighborhoods.

"If you want to help out, help us with the lights on Oak Tree. We've been trying for 8 years to get those and the park behind us. Those are the steps we're taking to make it a safer place," says Joe Miller, president of Midvale Parks Neighborhood Association.

Joe Miller says some in his neighborhood were hurt their community was labeled as high crime. Others were mad about the project.

"They're talking lawyers, they're going straight to lawyers and they're saying this is outrageous."

McClusky says the idea is to deter crime by empowering neighborhoods.

"The point of it is to decrease crime in those neighborhoods," says McClusky.

So far the Tucson project has $12,000 in promised donations. McClusky says that's enough to provide about 36 shotguns, along with background checks, training, ammo and gun locks.

Police say they're not against the idea, as long as it's done correctly with background checks and training.

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