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I know that many fellow Kossacks think that the Boy Scouts of America is some right-wing organization. or even hate group, due to their treatment of gays and atheists.  I don't really want to debate that in this diary.  Instead, I'd like to focus on how the Boy Scouts deals with firearms, and how much more mature they are about this than the NRA.  Follow me beyond the orange curlicue.

For many boys, the opportunity to go hiking and camping, lighting fires and handling knives, axes and guns is part of the attraction of Scouting.  The Boy Scouts provides those opportunities, but insists on doing those activities (and everything else) safely.  They publish an online Guide to Safe Scouting which is updated constantly.  This information is free for use if you run an outdoor program other than Scouting, and MUST BE FOLLOWED if you are a Scout leader.  There's rules for everything there, but those related to firearms are very strict.

For starters, there's age restrictions.  Cub Scouts (first through fifth grades) can use archery and BB guns only, but only at formal camp programs with qualified supervision.  Boy Scouts (11 to 18) can use bolt-action, single-shot .22 rifles, and shotguns whose bores are determined by local range conditions only, and again, only with qualified supervision, and modern muzzle-loaders only with one-to-one supervision.  Venturers (male and female, 14 to 21) may use any gun except fully-automatic weapons, again with proper supervision.  

All shooting sports must take place on a designated firing range, and no guns of any kind are allowed outside of that range.  My son had to take away a fancy BB gun from a Cub-Scout parent, who brought his own to camp and didn't want to leave it at the rifle range.  The parent complained to the camp director about having his gun taken away.  He didn't know the camp director was a former range director, and got told that if he continued to object, he could regard his gun as a donation to the camp.

All activities have to be overseen by two adults, who are qualified range safety officers through formal BSA training, or by current NRA, military or law enforcement training.  No instructors, no shooting allowed.  Very strict discipline must be observed, and anyone violating the safety rules must be barred from the range.

Finally, the Boy Scouts insists on the use of standard targets only. Silhouette targets, or hunting targets are not allowed - PERIOD!  In fact, laser tag and paint ball are not allowed as Scouting activities.  Silhouette targets, laser tag and paint ball ALL condition the Scouts that it is OK to shoot at a human-shaped target, and therefore at a person.  Such conditioning is inconsistent with the values that Scouting teaches.  Hunting is also not a Scouting activity.  We're not even allowed to set snares, except in wilderness survival courses, and we can't leave them set to trap animals.

Finally, learning how to responsibly use a gun is not required - it's an optional activity that boys, or their parents can choose not to do.

Compare these standards to those that the NRA seems to espouse.  The difference is that the NRA wants to treat firearm use as an unrestricted right, never mind the pesky militi clause.  The Boy Scouts treats shooting as a privilege, to be enjoyed only under highly-restricted, well-regulated conditions where safety is foremost.

Based on these standards, an AR-15 of any kind is not an appropriate Scouting gun, and large-capacity magazines are completely unnecessary.  Even with these restrictions, Scouts can responsibly, and safely learn about gun safety.  If we can do it, why not the rest of the country.

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