Of the new clubs that made an appearance in the top 40 of this year’s Funding Poll, the Gay Communist Gun Club (GCGC) is certainly the most conspicuously titled. This club focuses on creating and promoting a larger foundation of self-defense for the Reed community, particularly for those members who are “LGBQ, trans, PoC, disabled, women, and/or low-SES.”
For manager Rollo Brandon, the impetus for the group stems from a larger contemporary demand for direct action and self-defense from underrepresented and over-vulnerable communities in the United States. As he sees it, “For those who come from communities like [his], communities that are heavily, heavily policed, heavily transphobic, homophobic and things of that nature,” knowing self defense should be seen not as a luxury but rather “as a way to survive.” He adds, “Gun culture has been hijacked by the right [and] made to be something extremely reactionary when it doesn’t have to be that way.” Brandon hasn’t seen gun culture manifest much during his time at Reed, but he notes an increased consciousness of “the treatment of people of color and members of the LGBT community” and a greater engagement with “the history of oppressed people around the world.”
While there are a lot of students at Reed who, Brandon thinks, “tend to care about the communities that exist,” there’s a dichotomy between those who then become explicitly pro-gun and those who advocate for stricter gun control and regulations. Brandon asserts that the left in the United States is now coming off of a “period of repression” and that, consequently, its new generation of members have been “missing out on [its] political culture for a majority of [their] lives.” Gun culture on the left, as it now stands, resides in “very small pockets,” though Brandon says that “a lot of [this current] generation is now coming into contact with ideas of what the left is and the history of the left in the world and, as a result, are starting to become much more comfortable with the concept of guns.” Brandon criticizes the mainstream left’s rhetoric on gun culture as being “state-friendly” and “based in electoral politics.” He hopes to, through the club, help move gun culture on the left toward “more direct ways” for over-vulnerable groups to reclaim power for themselves, taking something used to police these groups and employing it to protect their communities instead.
Members of the Gay Communist Gun Club will have the opportunity to get registered with the Socialist Rifle Association, take courses in gun safety and training, and go on sponsored trips to gun ranges. Depending on one’s comfort with guns, the option remains to reduce one’s involvement in or to fully opt out of this aspect of the club. There will also be on-campus workshops for training on non-lethal self-defense objects, such as pepper spray and keychain knuckles. Participants will learn how to safely and effectively use these objects, how to keep them accessible in different situations, and will be given their own to take home. On-campus classes taught by self-defense and preventative safety instructors will also be offered. The primary goal of the club, Brandon says, is to create a space for protecting and empowering the over-vulnerable members of Reed’s community and to continuously maintain that space while going into the future.
If you’re interested in joining the Gay Communist Gun Club or otherwise learning more about it, you can contact Rollo Brandon (email@example.com), Nick Egan (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Gerardo Velasquez (email@example.com) through Facebook or their emails.
Note: You don’t have to be gay to join the Gay Communist Gun Club.