Gun club chartered by MCSG

By Clark Jacobson

Spring-the season of new life. Squirrels are getting fat, birds are chirping, it’s only a few degrees below freezing, and MCSG is busy approving the formation of a brand new clubs, like Students for the Safe Exercise of Our Rights to Bear Arms (SSERBA).”[The club] is all about promoting gun safety, appropriate gun use, and instructing people how to operate under range circumstances,” said President of SSERBA, Sam Brier ’13. “Guns are a major part of American culture-there are 80 million gun owners in the US. It’s important that people understand how to use firearms.”

The new organization focuses mainly on the activity of shooting itself by organizing excursions to local shooting ranges. At meetings on campus, though, the club aims to discuss things such as gun safety, gun culture, and the gun-related misconceptions. “We want people to know why they should care about [gun laws],” said Brier.

The short-term goal for SSERBA is “for the first range visit to be a success,” said Brier. He wants to make sure the participants are interested, travel to the range goes smoothly, and that the cost isn’t a problem. “Once we show it’s a success,” said Brier, “we can approach MCSG and say ‘Look, it worked. It’s important to fund because students are having fun, and it’s practical to fund because it’s financially sound.'”

But shooting is an expensive activity; standard group rates at Bill’s Gun Shop and Range, a local shootery, run at $26 per person for a few hours plus an additional flat group fee for range rental. SSERBA has only a $100 flex fund to operate their first excursion, meaning the first few participants will have to pay some of their expenses out-of-pocket.

“An important hurdle we have to overcome is the expense,” said Brier. “We’re trying to come to agreements with various ranges. Bill’s’ higher-ups and instructors would be totally down with coming to an agreement with us in advance.We want Mac students to come in and do this and we don’t want the cost to drive them away.”

Yet some students are hesitant to embrace SSERBA, despite the cost. “My first question to the Gun Club is to interrogate their intentionality,” said Needham Hurst, leader of Sitting at Mac. “Will this club create habit-patterns that will have negative karmic consequences on the rest of campus?”

Dean of Students James Hoppe expressed concern about the organization as well, regarding the potential for students to begin storing firearms on campus. Brier reassured MCSG and Hoppe that there will be no firearms at Macalester due to SSERBA, conceding that the Macalester Handbook does not allow weapons on campus in the first place.

When asked what he’d say to students in opposition to SSERBA, Brier said, “Our first meeting is on Saturday, March 5. Why don’t you come on out?” He elaborated: “the people that tend to be against us ironically are the people we’d like to show up. They’re the ones who are probably influenced by media myths and they’re the ones who are probably afraid of guns.”

“Guns make us feel powerful-more powerful than our fellow beings,” said Hurst. “I’m not sure if that makes. a club about gun safety inherently wrong, but I do wonder about why someone has the need to feel that powerful. [shooting guns] is not the kind of exhilaration I feel is helpful for my life. I doubt I’ll attend the meeting.”

The Legislative Board of MCSG accepted the charter with only one member opposed. Brier expressed concern that there may actually be too much interest because of the reality of the range restrictions and cost of such a project-the ideal amount of students on each excursion should be 20-25.

Brier hopes the club will represent both male and female shooters. “Inherently, women are more accurate than men at shooting,” said Brier. “I hope that fact will attract women to SSERBA.” The club will “naturally draw more men,” though the ideal male/female ratio will be fifty-fifty.

“SSERBA will teach Macalester students about firearms,” said Brier, “preparing them to make well-reasoned decisions about good firearm policies or even firearm ownership in the future.” SSERBA is largely an educational organization and encourages all students to join despite their experience level, sex, or beliefs. The first meeting is Saturday, March 5 at 4 p.m. in room 205 of the Campus Center.

“Yeah, I would join,” said Kent Hackbarth, ’11. “I was thinking of starting a trap and skeet club myself, though I didn’t think it would get off the ground.