A U.S. Senate candidate in Michigan has proposed a plan to arm homeless people with shotguns in a bid to reduce crime.
Brian Ellison, a Libertarian candidate who is expected to be the party’s candidate in the upcoming midterm elections, said homeless people are often at risk of becoming victims of violent crime and one way to prevent that is by providing them with firearms.
He would be challenging Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow for the U.S. Senate seat in November, if he wins the Libertarian Party’s candidate.
Ellison told the Guardian that although he thinks pistols for homeless people would be ideal, due to stringent gun laws, shotguns are the only alternative for them.
“Frankly, I think the ideal weapon would be a pistol,” he said, “but due to the licensing requirements in the state we’re going to have a hard enough time getting homeless people shotguns as it is.
“Getting them pistols is probably next to impossible. The pistols need to be registered, people have to have addresses.”
“Open-carrying a long gun is completely legal,” Ellison said, whereas carrying a concealed pistol is illegal without a permit. “So we thought that pump-action shotguns were a suitable alternative to a pistol.”
Ellison is running on a platform of civil rights, abolishing a number of federal agencies such as the Transportation Security Administration and Drug Enforcement Administration, and curbing U.S. military actions abroad. He is a former soldier who served in Iraq.
Speaking about his shotguns-for-the-homeless plan, he told the paper that he and his team would try to “pre-qualify” homeless people to determine whether they are suitable for owning a lethal weapon.
Those homeless people who do not wish to have a shotgun would not be forced to carry one, the candidate said.
“The first thing that we’re gonna do is ask them if they think this is something that would benefit them," he said. "We’re certainly not trying to force anything on anybody.”
Under the proposal, the new shotgun owners would also receive ammunition, but as long as they use it to defend themselves rather than “shooting cans in somebody’s private property.”
Ellison dismissed any criticism that giving shotguns to people at risk might be dangerous.
“Well, are you worried about the police being armed with military weapons?,” he asked. “I am. The world we live in is a scary world, where the police who used to dress in short-sleeved shirts and carry a revolver now have long rifles with scopes and bulletproof vests and armored vehicles.
“And quite frankly that scares me much more than a homeless person trying to defend themselves with a shotgun.”