In an effort to curb crime in Michigan, a candidate for U.S. Senate has proposed arming the local homeless population with shotguns.
Brian Ellison, a libertarian, told The Guardian in an interview that the ideal weapon would be "a pistol," but that that the permitting difficulties would likely prevent that plan from coming to fruition. Instead, arming the state's indigent population with "pump-action shotguns" would be "a suitable alternative."
Ellison cautioned that, if elected, he would arrange a system to "pre-qualify" homeless people to ensure that they would be suitable owners. His plan would also be an opt-in program, he said, noting that no one would be forced to carry around the weapon. Newsweek has reached out to the candidate for comment.
“The first thing that we’re gonna do is ask them if they think this is something that would benefit them, he said, adding that he didn't think it was dangerous. "We’re certainly not trying to force anything on anybody.”
The plan is meant to combat the very real problem of violence against homeless people. At least 1,650 homeless people were violently attacked between 1999 and 2015, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. The organization cautions that the number is an extremely conservative estimate. In order for there to be documentation of a crime, the homeless person typically has to report it to authorities, a step that indigent people may choose to forgo in the many territories where homelessness itself is criminalized. The most common perpetrators are often teenage boys and men under 30, the organization's annual report said.
In Michigan, more than 56,000 people are homeless. Ellison remarked that the population is "constantly victims of violent crime" in his state.
The Army veteran, who is running against Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow, also has some other controversial policies embedded within in his campaign platform. He would like to abolish the Transportation Security Administration, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Department of Education. His page also includes about half a dozen political memes and a call to donate. He self-reported raising just over $7,500 for his campaign by the end of 2017.
"In order to move forward in these beliefs we must remember that while our ideology is our core, we must also be practical and reasonable in their implementation," he says on his website. "We as a nation have a long way to go before realizing the benefits of Libertarian ideals."
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