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In the aftermath of yet another mass shooting, we can forget that there are a few points on which most Americans are in agreement:

  • The number of guns already in existence is staggering
  • Unstable persons clearly can obtain them
  • Schools and other large gatherings of citizens will likely continue to be attractive targets for would-be mass killers
  • We must do more to better protect those most vulnerable to such attacks

Rather than “arming teachers” — one recent proposal to counter school attacks — I think we have a more ready-made option in, of all places, the Second Amendment which, in its totality, reads "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

Our divisive rhetoric over weapons obscures the fact that most gun owners are persons who are not only reasonable, but who also care deeply about their communities. I believe, therefore, that the vast majority of them are a heretofore untapped resource for the larger good.

While the militias of the Founders’ time no longer exist, it is clear that the Founders understood gun ownership to be tied to providing collective defense. What if local communities were to invite local gun owners to join well organized, trained, and disciplined new militias that would — by working in close coordination with law enforcement agencies — serve to protect our schools, marches, and mass events?

Can we not think, and act, anew?

Greg Cusack

Portland, Oregon

Editor's note: Cusack was a former Iowa representative, 1973-1981 and Davenport 3rd Ward alderman, 1970-1972