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Group offers free shotguns to fight crime in Florida suburb

Members of the group "Armed Citizen Project" say they are looking to arm residents of a Florida neighborhood with shotguns in an effort to stop crime. WESH's Stephanie Kolp reports.

Members of a gun-rights group think they have the answer to combating crime — free shotguns and ammo to homeowners.

Members of the Armed Citizen Project of Florida have been dropping leaflets on doorsteps in the Sunshine Gardens community near Orlando, Fla., offering to “arm volunteer households,” for free.

“This is perfectly legal because what we’re doing is we’re offering first of all a certified gun-instruction class, but we’re not handing out the shotguns whatsoever.” the ACP state director Ron Ritter told local NBC affiliate WESH.

Ritter said a firearms retailer would supply the shotguns and ammunition and transfer ownership once the volunteer passes a background check.

Many residents interviewed by local media seemed a baffled by the effort, particularly since the community isn’t known as a high crime area.

"That's what really cracked me up," Cathy Rodgers, who has lived in the community for seven years, told the Orlando Sentinel. "I've never felt unsafe in my neighborhood. I just feel like they're preying on people's fears."

The Florida group, which  is affiliated with a Texas organization, has yet to give away even one shotgun since it was founded in the Tampa area, Ritter said.

That seemed to be fine with some residents.

“Everybody has the right to bear arms,” Robin McLaughlin told WESH, “but that doesn’t mean we should all have a firearm for our own protection."

According to the Armed Citizen Project’s national website, run by its flagship Houston, Texas, chapter, the group is “dedicated to facilitating the arming of law abiding citizens” in order to fight crime.

The group’s founder, Kyle Coplen, made headlines in May when he said he wanted to give away free shotguns to New Yorkers.

A phone call to Ken Geis, a volunteer on the Orlando shotgun giveaway, was not immediately returned.