In the Sept. 12 issue of The RECORD, Sasha Volokh responded to an op-ed that I wrote last spring. My piece discussed how I have no problem with gun clubs that simply take their members target-shooting. The HLS Target Shooting Club, however, declares in its constitution that it aims to help students “intelligently contribute to the public policy and constitutional debate on firearms.” I believe that Sasha’s club has made unhelpful contributions to this debate, and that it can do better.
The club’s main contribution so far has been Sasha’s public encouraging of conservatives to thumb their nose at liberals by supporting gun usage. For example, Sasha told the Harvard Law Bulletin that he started the club to see if he “could get some people steamed up” in Harvard’s “quite liberal” environment. In The Economist, he discussed his view that “enthusiasm for guns is a form of counter-cultural rebellion, rather like smoking cigars.” In the Harvard Crimson, Sasha stated that he “was hoping for some outrage” when he founded the club.
I believe that Sasha’s club can make a far more valuable contribution to the gun debate by de-emphasizing the political and cultural divisions that surround guns and instead encouraging substantive discussions on gun policy. The club began this process by holding a debate last spring, and I hope that process continues. Though Sasha and I have divergent views on the benefits and risks of guns, I think we agree that the gun debate will benefit from a less confrontational and more substantive level of discussion.
However, I must decline Sasha’s invitation to go shooting with his organization. If the club were merely a target-shooting club, I might be interested. But the club is also an advocacy organization that has adopted numerous public stances with which I disagree. Furthermore, nearly every news article on the club provides a tally of its “membership.” I do not want to be counted as a member of an organization whose leader publicly promotes gun use as a way to “get some people steamed up.” I would rather join Sasha in sponsoring intelligent debates than in shooting off.
— Daniel Swanson, 3L