A Michigan man running as a Libertarian for U.S. Senate says he wants to raise money to buy 20 pump style shotguns for homeless individuals.
"Not only are the homeless constantly under threat from would-be criminals," says Brian Ellison, "but they are also under threat from governments at various levels that criminalize activities that homeless people rely on for survival."
Ellison says he has no fears that the guns would be misused, for example, to shoot police who are trying to move people off an illegal encampment.
"I don't know why the homeless are viewed as such a different type of people as the rest of us," he says. "I carry a gun with me all the time, and I don't victimize anyone. I wouldn't expect that the homeless would use their weapons to fight off the police who are asking them to leave. I think the homeless would use their weapons to protect themselves from being victims of violent crimes."
Ellison acknowledges his campaign, "Arm the Homeless," has shock value that will bring attention to his campaign. But he says as a third-party candidate going up against well-funded Democratic and Republican opponents, shock value is about the only thing he can do to get media coverage.
But he says there is a serious intent to the campaign, which is to bring attention to the high rates of violent crime against homeless people, as well as the dehumanization of the homeless.
As to announcing the campaign on the same day as national walkouts by schoolchildren protesting gun violence:
"I'd say those kids have been watching too much mainstream media," he says, "because I don't think they understand the reality of the situation." Ellison admits that mass murders of children in school are "a terrible thing," but says gun control is not the answer. Ellison is running against incumbent U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat. Three Republicans are vying to run against her: Sandy Pensler, John James, and Bob Carr.