UPDATED: Residue of Gun Culture 0.0 in Charleston, South Carolina, 2018

UPDATE: A Facebook follower commented that this Charleston Rifle Club is a rifle club in name only. There is no shooting facility on the site. It is essentially a social club. Although this doesn’t make its rejection of an African American member any more palatable to me, it does mean this event doesn’t tell us anything (good or bad) about Gun Culture 0.0, 1.0, or 2.0. (H/T A.L.)

Sad news coming out of Charleston to end 2018. The Charleston Rifle Club — founded in the antebellum confederate state of South Carolina in 1855 — considered 14 individuals for membership and accepted 13. The one member rejected is a US Naval Academy graduate and retired Navy physician, Melvin Brown.

Melvin Brown is African American.

Although the population of Charleston, like the State of South Carolina, is approximately 30% African American, Brown would have been the first African American among the Charleston Rifle Club’s 800 members.

Reading beyond the headline, however, reveals a more promising story line which is unlikely to get as much press. An online petition (see screen cap below) reads:

As a private club, the Charleston Rifle Club can choose to exclude people based on their race, but the vast majority of the Charleston Rifle Club’s members find that to be an abhorrent and immoral choice and inconsistent with what we believe the club is.

Furthermore, we believe that this action is supported by a tiny fraction of the club’s membership. The current system allows for this small group to control the membership process. Six members, out of more than 800, can alone choose to exclude a prospective member.

Here’s hoping that the Gun Culture 1.0 members of this club succeed in overcoming the Gun Culture 0.0 members to allow Gun Culture 2.0 to stake a claim there.


  1. Wow. That’s a pretty lame excuse for a club if six members can exclude someone on the basis of their race. I say that as a board member of my own shooting club, speaking for myself (but most likely also speaking for virtually all of our members).

    Liked by 1 person

    • To be clear, not all members are at fault but club policy allows the club to be downwind of the fan. Its obvious from the petition that a lot of members oppose this act by a few officers. What needs to happen, other than voting in new officers, is changing club governance and putting in explicit language preventing this from happening in the future. Or, that club may be forming a metaphorical circular firing squad.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am no scholar of private clubs, but I would not be surprised if many private clubs’ by-laws weren’t set up precisely to be undemocratic. And many organizations generally may follow suit — thinking of the challenge of the membership having influence with the NRA.

        Agree that this is an interesting turning point for that particular club. Will be interested to see what comes of it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • As far as most members not influencing policy, i.e., the NRA. I had a similar run in with the League of American Bicyclists when I tried to run for the board. The existing board cherry-picks prospective board members. If you are not one of the picked cherries, you can petition the general membership to run as a board member. I tried that and the League did everything it could to make that more difficult such as not releasing the membership list. So it was hard to get the required number of signatures. But almost got the required signatures anyway after several of us sent out email and blog blasts to every bike list we could think of!

        I hope they get this right. Would be sad to see a gun club get run over by a bus of its own making.


    • Will be interested to see how the organization is constituted — whether the by-laws have some provisions that will allow such change. The club is definitely being scrutinized right now, but will the offended members stay and fight or just leave? Exit can be a less costly form of protest than voice.


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