Reed Shooting Sports Kollectiv:
The Political Committee is currently being formulated. The aim of the Political Committee will be to promote informed discussion of firearm ownership, self-defense, concealed carry, and any interaction between these domains and the college campus environment. The key tool to these ends is, of course, communication and spreading the word – please help others to have informed and rational discussion of these topics.
If you’re interested in these topics and would like to become part of our political committee, please e-mail us: rssk [at] rssk [dot] org.
The following is an excerpt from an op-ed posted on the blog of the Gun Owners Caucus of the Democratic Party of Oregon - their blog is called the Blue Steel Democrats. It’s posted here because it includes some political commentary. If you’d like to write for our political page, we’ll post your article – e-mail it to us!
“Communism, Atheism, and Guns” at Reed College.
-Ty Marbut, July 14th, 2009
I’m very excited to report on our new group at Reed College. For those who aren’t familiar with Reed College, we’re a small (~1300 students), private liberal arts college in Portland (more info on Wikipedia). Depending on who you ask (Princeton Review, etc.), Reed is between the 2nd and 8th “most politically and socially liberal” college in the country, comparable to UC Berkely. Our school’s unofficial seal (which is found on t-shirts, coffee mugs, Christmas ornaments, and dozens of other items in our school’s bookstore) proudly sports the hallowed trinity “Communism, Atheism, Free Love”.
Every year before the start of the spring semester in the last week of January, Reed College sets aside one week which we call Paideia, a time when anyone at all, including students, faculty, staff, alumni, and “friends” of the college may teach any type of class they like. A class has to be approved by the Paideia Czars and can be funded by the school. The week’s course offerings include classes like “Underwater Basket Weaving” (a perennial favorite), bread making, board game tournaments, joint rolling for beginners, henna art for beginners, lock picking, etc., etc.
This year, I decided to put a challenge to the college (i.e. see how many people I could piss off) by teaching a 3-step handgunning course. First I’d have a 2-hour lecture on everything having to do with handguns and shooting that wasn’t really politically charged, which would essentially bring someone up to speed to engage in range shooting/target practice (gun safety rules, the history and function of handguns and ammo, more gun safety talk, good shooting principles, information about ranges). Next, I’d take the students to the range to burn some real powder and have the opportunity to try a couple different models of handguns. Finally, I’d offer a 2-3 hour lecture about self-defense with firearms, including the relevant laws, concealed carry, self defense shooting, verbal and physical tactics, non-lethal options, etc.
I had arranged for funding for 40 students to go on the shooting range field trip, partially from the Oregon Firearms Federation and partly from the college – students would have to pay $10 each for 2 hours of coaching, 200 rounds of ammo, a good place to shoot, and transportation. However, just before the start of the first lecture, the thought crossed my mind that, in the freakish event that more than 40 people showed up, I might have to figure out some sort of makeshift lottery system. In fact, over 120 students, staff, and campus security officers attended the first class, and the crowd spilled out into the hallway where some students sat on the floor for more than 2 hours to hear the lecture.
Some quick calculations revealed that between 10 and 15% of the students who were in town for Paideia wanted to shoot guns, and therefore, theoretically, 10-15% of the student body would want to shoot guns. Our range trips went very well with the help and hospitality of the Clackamas County Sheriff Office’s Public Safety Training Center, and the result was a new student group, the Reed Shooting Sports Kollectiv (named in honor of our campus “kommunist” organization, the “Reed Kommunist Shit Kollektiv” – they’re RKSK, we’re RSSK). RSSK grew in the first half of Spring Semester 2009 to be, most likely, the largest membership organization on campus (and if not the largest, we’re not far behind the “kommunists”). At the end of the semester we’d taken a number of funded trips to the shooting range, to the gun show, and held several gun safety seminars (which were coincidentally ice cream socials). Our members make up over 10% of the student body (136 as of May) and have expended about 10,000 rounds of ammo at RSSK events.
As one might imagine, it’s been a very interesting journey bringing a gun organization to fruition in one of the most politically “liberal” environments you can find in the U.S. However, so far it’s been a testament to the spirit of Reed’s liberalism (this time without quotation marks) that such a group can thrive here. Most of our new shooters have heard exactly one political message about guns (a very negative one, of course) before contact with me and RSSK, and are often intrigued rather than appalled that I talk about gun rights in the context of other civil rights. The whole experience has seemed very promising to me, in that these young “liberals” who by-and-large have a solid grasp of the political world and who, by-and-large, think intelligently and independently about politics, are not only drawn to the novel political message I’m sending them but can, in many cases, accept it easily when it’s couched not in the context of the good ol’ boys of the Republican Party but in the realm of individual civil rights. In short, real liberals, like the students at Reed College, get it.
This coming fall, RSSK will train incoming students during the new student orientation days and will put on a number of gun safety workshops and perhaps visit the range once or twice. We’ll be a prominent fixture in the student handbook, the campus newspaper, and in general we have made a name for ourselves in the student social landscape.
Towards the beginning of the coming semester, we’ll also form a specific political committee. It’s been important to keep political talk separate from RSSK news and agenda in general because I promised everyone who signed up for our e-mail list that it wouldn’t be a political propaganda forum. However, most RSSK members seem to be interested in the political stuff (i.e. SCCC), and once the committee is established, we can and will launch a fairly aggressive campaign to alter our school’s blanket disarmament policy – the “fish-in-a-barrel” policy. We’re hoping to get permission for and perhaps finance a gun safe in our campus security building where on-campus students can store guns and check them out to go to the range. We’re also working to make available “scholarships” to subsidize concealed weapons permit classes and other external (more official) shooting classes for Reed students and faculty. Then, come next Paideia (mid-January), we’ll host another series of classes, hopefully even more extensive than last year’s.
Any questions about RSSK (or, of course, info or offers to help us put on or fund shooting events!) should be directed to Ty Marbut at tyrel.marbut [at] reed [dot] edu.
Last update: 9/15/09