The National Rifle Association and some gun owners — but nowhere near all gun owners — oppose state or federal laws that would require them to report stolen guns to police.

The stated reason for most of the opposition is, “Then the bad guys will know that we have guns,” with “bad guys” expanded beyond the usual thieves and robbers to include the government that might attack gun owners.

Leaving aside for the moment the farcical, suicidal spectacle of rifle-armed gun owners opposing today’s “government” infantry armed with tanks, missiles, drones, artillery and napalm— and having an Air Force on call with even deadlier long-range weapons — no, let’s not leave that aside. Let’s just think about that for a moment and decide who is being muzzy-headed here.

OK, now back to leaving that aside.

It is clearly in the national interest for police to be able to trace weapons that

are used in crimes, from handguns used in big-city sidewalk or drive-by shootings to the rapid-fire weapons used by mass shooters in schools, bars, etc.

While we are debating, people are dying.

So let’s talk about a new law that would:

  • Require insurance companies to report relevant details about stolen weapons without notifying government of the identities of those victims.
  • Require insurance companies to divulge the identities of owners of stolen firearms upon probable cause to believe that the owners were “straw purchasers” or persons who otherwise illegally transferred their weapons, then reported them as stolen.
  • Forbid payment of insurance claims if those relevant details are not reported to insurance companies.

Maybe this would be a workable compromise. Maybe not.

But let’s not just stay stuck in the same “They’ll take our guns!” vs. “Nobody should have those guns!” extremist positions.

Here is another suggestion.

If gun-regulation opponents oppose universal background checks because they want to retain the option to freely give their guns to descendants or living family members or friends, keep that option open — with a wrinkle.

Here is the wrinkle: You give your guns to family members. Those guns are subsequently used in violent crimes. YOU could be held liable if you knew or should have known of mental instability, violent tendencies, previous felony convictions or other prohibitions against gun ownership by recipients.

No background check, no record keeping. Just after-the-fact responsibility. What could be more American?

There are other avenues to explore.

Let’s explore, not just stay stuck.

While we are debating, people are dying.

— Denny Bonavita

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