by Jim Nintzel
McClusky says the lucky recipients “will receive a cleaning kit, they’ll receive the shotgun, they’ll receive slugs, they’ll go through a background check and they’ll also go through the training class.”
McClusky says he’s already raised $12,000 in pledges for the program. With each “package” costing about $350, that means he has enough money to hand out roughly three dozen “single-shot, break-action shotguns,” says McClusky, who hopes to raise more money to expand the program.
McClusky says the program will initially target three Tucson neighborhoods: Pueblo Gardens, Midvale Park and the Grant-Campbell area.
The latter area, he says, “is becoming rampant with break-ins.”
Ward 6 Councilman Steve Kozachik, who lives in the Campbell-Grant area, is not supportive of McClusky’s plan.
“For someone to say it makes sense to be giving away loaded shotguns in high-crime areas is absolute lunacy,” Kozachik says. “These people have lost their minds.”
But McClusky, who unsuccessfully ran for City Council four years ago and failed to make it on the ballot in the mayor’s race two years ago, says the City Council’s failure to fund the police department makes it necessary to hand out free shotguns.
“My question to Steve is: When is he going to fully fund public safety?” McClusky says. “Response times are climbing every year. They keep gutting police and fire. When they start fully funding police and fire, a program like this would not be needed.”
McClusky says in the next 30 to 45 days, he’ll drop fliers around the neighborhoods where he wants to hand out shotguns. Anyone who is interested will be invited to a meeting, asked to undergo a background check and, while supplies last, get a free shotgun.
Once the meetings are done, “we’re going to notify the entire neighborhood that we are going to arm citizens in your neighborhood and we’re going to protect your neighborhood. We’re going to take it back. The city council is failing to protect you with police and fire. We’re going to give you the opportunity to keep your home safe.”
McClusky expects the program will reduce crime.
“Think about the impact this is going to have on a neighborhood,” he says. “If you’re a criminal and you go into a neighborhood and we have a yard sign that says, ‘This neighborhood is protected by armed citizens,’ you’re going to go to the next neighborhood, if you’re the criminal.”