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In the days of bringing guns to school

As I have mentioned in this space before, when I was a kid, I carried a gun to high school. It was not a handgun, but a rifle. And I actually shot it at school.

Before you recoil in horror, consider this: I was a member of the school gun club, and we met in a makeshift shooting gallery in the school basement. We did not bring ammo with us. It was provided by the school. Yes!

Along with fellow members, I learned to take apart my rifle (a single-shot Remington .22, which I still own) clean it and put it back together again.

Most of us learned to be pretty good shots. The band teacher, Mr. Barker, who was the club advisor, would take us on rabbit hunts occasionally, and we would learn the principles of hunting. If we got lucky and shot any rabbits we would get to keep the $1 bounty.

Rabbits were not popular in potato-farming country. Most farmers would say “sure” when we asked if we could hunt on their lands. The presence of Mr. Barker probably gave them confidence we wouldn’t misbehave.

Never once did any of us shoot anything we weren’t supposed to. We knew guns could be dangerous, and we were taught to handle them safely.

Those lessons served me well when I was in the Army Reserve. They serve me well in my adult life when I practice target shooting at The Range.

Could you have a gun club in a high school today? Probably not. But I can’t help but think gun clubs could settle things down in schools where kids occasionally go nuts, like the boy in Florida did.

But I do know this. In the towns where I grew up, in Idaho, you never, ever heard of someone being shot at a school in which there was a gun club.

Coincidence? I don’t know.

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