Triggering Interest; College Students Organize to Practice Second Amendment Rights

Article excerpt

Byline: Alison Hoover, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

College students have organized clubs on dozens of campuses to defend their Second Amendment rights and to have fun with guns. "We go to the gun range because it's fun and educational," said Michaela LeBlanc, a senior at Smith College in Northampton, Mass. Miss LeBlanc travels to the nearby Smith & Wesson Shooting Sports Center with friends from the Smith College Republicans. This fall, they will seek recognition from the college as an official club.

At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Dax Dixson founded the Tar Heel Rifle and Pistol Club. He said he thought fellow students would benefit from shooting, a skill he started learning before elementary school. The club sponsors lectures on Second Amendment rights and gun safety and travels to ranges to allow members to practice shooting disciplines.

Mr. Dixson said the university provides funding for speakers and shooting supplies on the condition that club members use all ammunition on the same day they purchase it.

The conservative Leadership Institute, based in Arlington, is among the outside organizations helping students start campus gun clubs.

The institute formed its Campus Leadership Program in 1997 "to assist conservative students in the forming of independent groups on their own campuses," said Morton Blackwell, founder and president of the institute. "In many cases, the left has succeeded in making campuses left-wing indoctrination centers."

Field representatives from the Campus Leadership Program help students "choose what the focus of their activities is going to be," he said, and then work with them to develop the leadership skills they need to maintain their organization.

He said about 45 of the 738 active groups with which the program works are dedicated to Second Amendment issues.

To recruit field representatives, Gun Owners of America sponsored an ad that began, "Do you know someone who is pro-gun, who likes working with college-age kids, and who is in need of a full-time job in the fall?"

Second Amendment Sisters Inc. focuses on teaching women to shoot but also supports college gun clubs.

"Guns have been so demonized" to college students, said Mari Thompson, president and founder of Second Amendment Sisters. "We want to make sure that [students] know what the facts are, so they will carry on when we're gone. …