Guest Opinions

Shootings are a problem that requires a monumental solution: Trained, armed volunteers

Signs like this greet visitors in the parking lot and entrances to the Garden Valley School, which has about 250 students in pre-k through 12th grades.
Signs like this greet visitors in the parking lot and entrances to the Garden Valley School, which has about 250 students in pre-k through 12th grades. Provided by Garden Valley

Mass shootings and gun violence are a national calamity with no current answer. Pundits have been reduced to condemning the acts but are without a solution. It is widely believed that gun control laws need to be strengthened, but those recommendations come without specific ideas and lack evidence for efficacy. Enforcing the current laws that are so often broken may help. Should we really try to confiscate or buy back the 265 million guns that are privately owned in the U.S. by its 325 million citizens?

It is counterintuitively true that over the past decade as gun violence in the country has escalated, the citizenry has shown in polls to be more in favor of the Second Amendment right. One could argue that the Second Amendment is part of the mortar that makes our nation better than a fascist regime or banana republic.

Teaching schoolchildren to hide under chairs and in closets is a sophomoric simpleton’s suggestion to the problem.

The tragedy in mass shootings occurs in the first minutes — actually, the very first moments — when multiple victims are killed. The police are unfortunately able to arrive only in time to count the bodies.

Suppose, as a solution, absent others with efficacy, more law-abiding citizens, trained properly, carried concealed weapons. What if, for a second, we gave this a rational appraisal? What if your son or brother, or sister, or husband, acted as a “sheep dog,” carrying a concealed weapon to be used within seconds of incipient tragedy? Dozens of lives could be saved. Willing, selected members of our citizenry could be trained to be as effective as our police forces in this limited scenario. Why not provide protection for our people — especially our youth — in the locations where these tragedies seem to be repeated?

Proponents of a more elaborate and sophisticated national policy of concealed carry believe that six or 10 lives could have been saved in Aurora, Colo.; that literally dozens of innocent lives could have been saved in Newtown or Orlando, or at Virginia Tech. A well-trained volunteer citizen would have stopped each of these disasters in seconds, saving many lives. There was one trained guard at the Florida school recently. What if there had been a dozen — or two dozen, who were otherwise counselors, teachers, or administrators volunteering their service in this way?

Some say that more guns in public means more danger, or that school employees, for example, should not have to carry that burden. These arguments are nonsense, spoken from a podium of ignorance. How can anyone think that someone else’s “extra burden” is more important than the opportunity to protect lives.

Giving appropriate training to screened and willing members of the administration and staff at our schools and other at-risk institutions only makes sense. The only solution to tragedies emanating from mental illness and evil is the presence of well-trained, well-meaning individuals who move amongst us for our protection. It will save lives in the short term, and very possibly change our culture of susceptibility in the long term. These repeated tragedies are a monumental problem requiring a monumentally courageous and pragmatic solution.

I suppose, for now, we simply need to live in fear, continuing to try solutions that have led to more lives being tragically lost, and remain vociferous in our condemnation of the problem. It frankly makes me angry that my grandchildren are at risk in their elementary school because we don’t have the courage to take the common-sense step to eradicate this scourge. The force of good people with the capability of stopping evil before it can happen is the only real solution. Everything else is useless talk.

Christian Oakley is a retired physician and surgeon, and a lifelong resident of Idaho, excepting the time spent out of state during his education and training. He has three grandchildren in Idaho schools.