And Now Annapolis

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.

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9 Responses to And Now Annapolis

  1. Gene Gabbard says:

    This is an excellent well thought out blog. When will the government improve the gun laws? When will our government become active in identifying and helping folks with mental illnesses? We as citizens need to start speaking our about this in all available public forms. We need to support candidates that have these issues high on their priority list.

  2. dick schubert says:

    AMEN To both Tom’s blog and Gene’s comment!

  3. Bob Sloan says:

    Excellent blog Tom:

    Our political leaders have proven incapable of dealing
    effectively with both the issue of reasonable gun control and
    Mental health issues. It is going to take a public, sustainable
    effort like Mothers Against Drunk Driving to compel
    politicians to address complex issues. Perhaps teachers could be such a sustainable force. They see these troubled students first and perhaps
    we could establish a referral system. Certainly we need to try something
    different and not just give in and consider these mass murders
    as inevitable.

  4. Jesse Middendorf says:

    Excellent! How can we continue to act as if this is simply an inevitability? Speaking out, becoming advocates, connecting with our state and federal representatives and demanding the common sense gun regulation, are civic duties, to say nothing of Christian responsibilities.

  5. I appreciate your thoughtful reflection on the terrible event, Tom.

    The question of why we have so many murders compared to other countries is complex, but unaddressed will remain unabated.

    Laws are one part of the formula, but they depend on people whose campaigns were funded by people and organizations who are opposed to changing or creating laws. This results in a political conundrum of enormous proportions.

    While we don’t adequately address the treatment of mental conditions, we are even further removed from addressing causes. In a society with a wealth model based on cures rather than prevention and with the evolving social conditions (suicide rates for 2018 are on the increase), we have plenty of stimuli to trigger the responses.

    Even as I draft this note, I’m thinking about what I might do that would really make a difference. Thanks for triggering the thought, Tom.

  6. Darel Grothaus says:

    Tom: Shalom. Darel

  7. Newell Smith says:

    The seeds for the lack of respect for human life have been planted for a long time in the extreme violence our young people are exposed to in movies television and video games.

  8. Vincent Crouse says:

    Thank you for reminding us that as Christians we cannot give into fatalism or its most benign form in the attitude that there is nothing we can do. I was struck by your comment that we need vigils and the ability they have for helping us to find safety, to grieve and to save us from fatalism. It was a point of conviction concerning the spiritual leadership I provide (or haven’t) to my people in a country where mass shootings has become the norm. Thank you.

  9. Bob Prescott says:

    We only live 5 miles from the site of last week’s tragedy. We also were at the Saturday evening vigil in the parking lot of the Annapolis Mall, across the street from the office of The Capital Gazette.

    We were within a few feet of all those who spoke, sang and prayed. We held lit candles for 45 minutes and entered into the community sense of loss and heart ache. We also cried.

    Yesterday’s Capital Gazette had a lead article on the front page entitled “Gun laws couldn’t prevent rampage” by Scott Dance, Staff Writer. Even though Maryland has the strictest gun laws in the nation, according to our Governor, they did not prevent Ramos from purchasing the gun he used in these assassinations.

    Dance explains a new law that takes effect in October 2018. It is called the “Red flag” law. According to Dance, Maryland will be one of 11 states that authorize “extreme risk protection orders,” giving judges authority to strip firearms from individuals shown to be a threat to themselves or others, even if they are not accused or convicted criminals.

    In Maryland, only blood relatives , spouses, dating partners, co-parents or legal guardians can file “red flag” petitions. So even had the law been in effect and had the Capital received the written threats that were reported in today’s paper, neither Capital staff not the woman Ramos once harassed would have been able to file a “red flag” petition. Dance recommends that lawmakers revisit the intent of the “red flag” safeguard in light of the 5 slayings.

    I am proud to be an American, and glad to be living in Maryland, but we really need to address our casual attitude toward gun ownership and use. I have had the opportunity to travel to 67 countries in my work for my Church and people everywhere think we are “crazy”.

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