Add Annapolis to places of mass shootings – 154 so far in 2018.
We paused in disbelief when it happened on Thursday, June 28, about 10 minutes from my home. Busy roads were blocked. An adjacent shopping mall was closed. In silence we watched a TV view of the crime scene from hovering helicopters.
The first responders arrived within 60 seconds, arrested the shooter, rescued wounded survivors, escorted to safety over 100 employees in the building and finally removed the bodies of five Capital Gazettejournalists killed in this horrific mass murder from gun violence – by a young angry white man.
What is there to say? The following day the editorial page in the Gazette was blank other than the names of the five journalists – with the words “we are speechless.”
The shooter planned to kill as many as he could in retaliation for a story the Gazette had printed years ago about a harassment charge to which he pleaded guilty.
Wendi Winters, a prolific journalist and respected community observer was a victim: age 65, mother of four, an active member of a church attended by two of my friends. The day after the shooting I attended a vigil for Wendi at their church.
It provided a time for her faith community and family, as well as the community to grieve together.
Vigils are important. Hundreds more marched in Annapolis that evening in a civic vigil.
If we hunker down in fear we tend to become fatalists – thinking that nothing can be done about mass shootings. We tend to give in and give up.
Together, we know that there are things that can and must be done.
The majority of Americans who don’t own guns along with those who do, favor reasonable gun regulations including effective screening for ownership and making military style automatic weapons illegal.
We can improve our mental health resources including responding to threats of angry, mostly young white males. The Annapolis shooter had well known mental health issues that should have been addressed.
It seems to me that every faith community would benefit from vigils like the one I attended whether or not one of their own is a victim.
Vigils provide a safe place for people to connect with tears and hugs when there are no words to express grief. They save us from lonely fatalism giving us the courage to advocate for change and renew our hope for a better world.