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I doubt there are many folks walking around with a high school letterman’s sweater with a Bull’s-eye and Two Crossed Rifles. In the mid-1940s, most San Francisco high schools had ROTC units with uniforms, ranks and parades. Under our old school building was a full-fledged rifle range so a team could practice for national competition. We did very well.

Trained previously by National Rifle Association instructors for Boy Scout merit badges, their goal was gun safety! Marksmanship was left to service in the armed forces.

When the NRA was taken over by right-wing conservatives in the late 1970s, its focus changed to reinterpretation of the Second Amendment and the meaning of “militia." The 5-4 decision, led by Anthony Scalia, has led to the most heavily armed country in the world. It was one of the three worst judgments ever made by the U.S. Supreme Court.

As a former Republican state representative for 20 years, I mentioned to many of my former colleagues that hoping we could write enough bills to control the gun lobby would never happen. But there is a solution and it divides the NRA — insurance. Since cars are considered weapons for insurance purposes, so should guns. Public liability coverage would be required before a weapon is purchased. In gun shows insurance reps would be on hand to issue a policy. Stores would have to see evidence of insurance before a purchase and it would be checked. The level of insurance would vary between a sportsman’s bolt action, five shot-clip rifle and pistols versus concealed handguns and military-style rapid-fire AK-15s and so forth.

The NRA then becomes divided between the real sportsmen with their bolt action rifles who may pay a $100 a year and an AK-15 owner who would pay $1000 a year. Insurance companies would be quick to establish their rates based on actual claims. Guns not insured could be confiscated and the owner could be charged with a felony. Owners would never have to worry the government would collect their guns because no single insurance company would have all the serial numbers and coverage.

The current Congress will never pass this but some state will venture forth with the understanding that it doesn't violate the Second Amendment.

It has been long overdue to stop the killing!

Tony Van Vliet represented Corvallis in the Oregon House of Representatives for 20 years. 


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