AFP AUDIO INTERVIEW
Kyle Coplen, the founder and executive director of Armed Citizen Project (ACP) is on a mission to help law-abiding citizens in crime-infested neighborhoods across America by giving them a free shotgun.
Mr. Coplen, a 29-year-old “with a master’s in Public Administration from the University of Houston,” and the Assistant Director for Aquatic Programs at Rice University, explained what motivated him to begin this project and what his goals are, in this informative interview (19:06).
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By Dave Gahary
Kyle Coplen, the founder and executive director of Armed Citizen Project (ACP) is on a mission to help law-abiding citizens in crime-infested neighborhoods across America by giving them a free shotgun. Mr. Coplen, a 29-year-old “with a master’s in Public Administration from the University of Houston,” and the Assistant Director for Aquatic Programs at Rice University, explained in an exclusive interview with AMERICAN FREE PRESS what motivated him to begin this project.
“This past January I visited the home of a World War II veteran,” he began, “whose home was badly vandalized. I was part of the community effort that rallied around and fixed up this man’s home.”
The 93-year-old veteran, who had lost his wife a few weeks prior, was at a doctor’s appointment when two criminals busted in, spray-painted his walls, furniture, TV, and ransacked his place.
“Seeing what those criminals had done, it really lit a fire in me,” he said. “I started thinking about private solutions to the public problem of home invasion crime, and that’s where I got the idea for the Armed Citizen Project.”
Coplen founded ACP that month.
ACP does two things: arm and train entire neighborhoods in high crime areas and train and arm single women, single mothers and the disabled.
Coplen, an Indiana native, moved to Texas five years ago, and explained how he targeted the Houston neighborhood for ACP’s first campaign.
“We selected an area that has recently had a high amount of home invasion crimes,” he said, “that also has a lot of owner-occupied folks that have been in this neighborhood for a long time, and have seen . . . the crime rate increase [and] . . . their property values go down.”
He explained that the area selected had about 400 homes in it, with 107 home invasions in the past year, a shocking 25%.
“We’ve offered every resident there . . . a free pump-action shotgun for home defense,” he said.
ACP, which is “completely dependent upon donations of others,” requires a background check and a training course in order to get the free gun, and the first one was handed out in March.
“We’ve trained and armed 50 individuals so far,” he said. “My goal is to train and arm a thousand gun-owners this year, and I think it’s entirely possible.”
Already in Illinois, Florida and Arizona, Coplen expects to “be in 15 cities by the end of the year,” including Chicago, which has been wracked by gun violence this year.
ACP’s announcement that they will be expanding to New York set off alarm bells there.
“Once we announced that we were expanding to New York,” he said, “Mayor Mike Bloomberg announced that he’d do everything he can to keep it us out” [and] “Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has said that they will deny people permits that are affiliated with our organization.”
August is ACP’s ‘National Empowerment Month’ when the group hopes to arm and train 500 women across the country.
AFP asked if the group has heard from the first 50 people who have participated in the program.
Have you heard from any of these 50 people that you got the guns to, any stories anything you want to hear from these people is a part of your program?
“Oh absolutely,” he said. “After seeing these folks come in, kind of uneasy about firearms and not really sure where they stand, and once they’re ready to leave, they’re smiling ear-to-year, and just feeling so empowered and leaving with that sense that they are now gonna feel secure in her own home.”
If you feel your neighborhood may qualify for ACP’s program and you’d like to find out more, visit ACP’s website or call Kyle at (281) 409 2546.
Dave Gahary, a former submariner in the U.S. Navy, is the host of AFP’s ‘Underground Interview’ series.