A non-profit group based in Houston, TX, dubbed The Armed Citizens Project has announced that it will begin distributing free guns to residents in high-crime areas of Houston in a bid to protect them from intruders and to analyze the relationship between increased firearm availability and crime rates.

The Armed Citizens project was founded by Houston resident Kyle Coplen, a faculty member at Rice University. Coplen and his cohorts commenced their controversial gun distribution efforts earlier this year when they successfully armed a group of 15 Houston women to "help protect them and their children."

"We are now stepping up our efforts to train and arm an entire neighborhood. We've sent mailers out to the targeted area and people began contacting us," Coplen said. "Starting May 5, 2013, we will begin weekly training for the residents [of Houston] and begin helping them to obtain a shotgun."

According to the Project Web site, the group seeks to arm people living in high-crime areas with shotguns purchased through private donations. Simultaneously, they plan to pursue a "media strategy" to increase community awareness of the areas they seek to establish as "gun-rich zones." In addition they will conduct research to discover whether a causal link exists between the presence of firearms in a neighborhood and the level of crime there.

Residents seeking to obtain weaponry through the Armed Citizens Project efforts must first undergo a thorough background check and then complete extensive safety, legal and tactical training programs, all of which the group will provide free of charge.

The Armed Citizens Project has plans to begin a similar regimen in Tucson, AZ in the near future. By the end of the year they intend to facilitate the arming of law-abiding citizens in 15 cities across the country.

"Cities like Detroit, Indianapolis, and Chicago have a high crime rate and many residents live in fear, especially vulnerable communities such as single mothers and the elderly," Coplen said. "We are looking forward to helping them exercise their rights and to realize self-empowerment."