Apr 5, 2013 11:42 AM by Nathan O'Neal
TUCSON - Community members living in a southwest neighborhood are speaking out about a controversial campaign to give residents in troubled neighborhoods free shotguns.
The Texas-based "Armed Citizens Project" wants to arm neighborhoods in 15 cities nationwide, including Tucson's Midvale Park neighborhood.
Former Mayoral Candidate Shaun McClusky is working with the group in the hopes of solving the city's crime problem.
The Midvale Park neighborhood was singled out, along with two other neighborhoods in Tucson, for its relatively high crime rate. For some folks at a community meeting Thursday night, they say they don't want anything to do with the shotgun giveaway program.
However, for Shaun McClusky, the idea is simple: to arm law abiding citizens with a free shotgun.
"Those individuals will go through a background check, they'll go through training and safety," McClusky said, adding: "They'll go through a handling class and they'll go do range time as well."
McClusky said that the neighborhoods were selected after sifting through extensive backlogs of crime data. The hope -- that a shotgun will help residents keep their families safe.
"They'll be fully comfortable and confident with their weapon so that they can protect their families, and that's all this is about," McClusky told News 4 Tucson.
Some Midvale Park residents were offended that their neighborhood was singled out.
"We're hard working neighbors and the police in our area do a fine job, and if they need our help it's as neighbors not as vigilantes," said Joe Miller, President of the Midvale Park Neighborhood Association.
Miller isn't quite convinced that a gun giveaway is good for his community.
"We've got 14,000 people here and if they want to participate that's great... that's wonderful... but quite frankly, we don't need gun welfare here," Miller said, adding: "If someone needs a shotgun they'll go out and buy a shotgun."
Sal Baldenegro works in the Midvale Park neighborhood but said there's a dark side to this whole situation.
"We don't need to be adding guns into this neighborhood, that's probably the last thing that we need to be doing, that's the real concern," Baldenegro said.