Free Shotguns In Florida: Aspiring George Zimmermans To Line Up?

Free shotguns are now available to residents of the Orlando neighborhood of Sunshine Gardens. This is thanks to a local offshoot of the Texas-based Armed Citizens Project. The group left leaflets on various doors in the area with the title “Deterring Crime by Empowering Neighborhoods.” The notice asks for volunteers to help battle crime — by accepting a free shotgun from the group.

Residents of the Orlando neighborhood are rather puzzled over the group’s choice to distribute free shotguns there. The Orlando Sentinel says that after speaking to several Sunshine Gardens locals, many say that the area isn’t particularly lawless, with only the occasional property crime from time to time. As one area woman put it: “I’m 89 years old, and the early ’60s was the last time we had a problem,” recalling a neighbor who was shot during an attempted robbery.

And she’s not alone. Several other neighborhood residents have scoffed at the idea, even ridiculing it. One seven-year resident remembers the Armed Citizens Project’s fliers, saying they “cracked me up.” She says she’s never felt unsafe in the area and wonders if the ACP is just “preying on people’s fears.”

A 25-year resident, Robin McLaughlin, chuckles at the idea of free shotgun distribution, saying the program is not necessary. “Everybody has the right to bear arms,” McLaughlin says. “But that doesn’t mean we should all have a firearm for our own protection.”

The Armed Citizens Project of Florida says they will help any resident of Sunshine Gardens get a free shotgun and ammunition from a local gun seller after following legal requirements. Volunteers must graduate from a firearm training course before getting their shotguns from the ACP.

Founder of the ACP in Texas, Kyle Coplen, says that the free shotguns will deter crime by intimidating would-be criminals. Unfortunately, the director of the Violence Prevention Research Program, Garen J. Wintemute, believes the handouts will only lead to higher risks of violence, according to Huffington Post. He also says the free shotguns may actually encourage burglary attempts, as firearms are “hot loot.”

So far sources say that the Armed Citizens Project of Florida has not successfully given away any free shotguns since forming in March earlier this year.

[Image via ShutterStock]