Friday, March 7, 2014
Cristina Silva / The Associated Press
(Continued from page 1)
Former Tucson, Ariz. mayoral candidate Shaun McClusky poses with a shotgun at Black Weapons Armory in Tucson on Thursday. The weapon is similar to those to be given away as part of a privately funded program he is launching to provide residents in crime-prone areas with free shotguns so they can defend themselves against criminals.
Moved by Giffords advocacy, the Tucson City Council recently approved a measure requiring universal background checks at gun shows held on city property. City officials said the gun giveaway program appears to be legal, so they have no recourse to shut it down.
One of the neighborhoods targeted by the program is Pueblo Gardens, an ethnically diverse, blue-collar neighborhood in southern Tucson where residents say occasional shootings, drug busts and car thefts are not uncommon.
The no-frills landscape is dotted with pickup trucks, palm trees, window bars, cacti, chain fences and toy-littered lawns. Many residents own guns, if only because of the handful of sex offenders who call the area home. More than 90 percent of the humble, single-story homes are occupied by renters.
Pueblo Gardens could benefit from a public safety campaign, but some residents say they are appalled anyone would think the answer is more guns.
"We could take that $400 per shotgun and give it to these people so they could go buy groceries, pay rent, pay their utility bills, something useful," said neighborhood association president Cindy Fayala. "Vigilantism is not the answer."
McClusky argued that like signs posted in yards advertising alarm systems, signs that warn the homeowners have guns would get the message across, he said.
"I'd like to prevent them from becoming a victim," he said.
At least 13 single women in Houston have already benefited from the program.
Tiffany Braggs, 44, said she had never owned or fired a gun before she signed up for The Armed Citizen Project in Houston after her condominium management board warned residents of growing crime.
"I feel a little bit more secure knowing that I can defend my home and my children," said Braggs, who now plans to buy a handgun to keep in her purse.
Alan M. Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation in Bellevue, Wash., said he expects to see more gun giveaways as President Barack Obama and other leaders call for gun restrictions.
"All this is happening because it's a pushback," he said. "If others weren't screaming for more control you wouldn't see all the sales for guns and ammunition."