"Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me."
Here is what we know: The Capital is our community newspaper. They report on high school football games, arts festivals, water quality in the Bay, local politics, profiles on colorful characters, and so much more. And even after Thursday's tragedy, the dedicated staff kept on reporting the news - even when they themselves were the story. We know that Annapolis and Anne Arundel County's incredible first responders were on the scene in 60 seconds and helped prevent further devastation. And last night thousands of members of our community joined in a candlelight vigil to pray for the victims, their families, and the staff of The Capital. It was there that Father Charlie of St. Mary's reminded us of the psalm: "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me."
We are only just now beginning to know the circumstances and details around this senseless shooting.
We also know that while thoughts and prayers are an excellent start, they are, in the words of The Capital staff who were in the room on Thursday, not enough. This tragedy isn’t - and cannot become - normal. There have been an estimated 184 mass shootings in America in 2018 alone and thousands of Americans die by gun violence every year. We can and must seek solutions to keep our workplaces, our schools, our places of worship, and our communities safe.
The Maryland General Assembly has taken significant steps to prevent this kind of violence from happening in our community. The Red Flag law that was recently passed should provide law enforcement officers with a tool to take away guns from individuals who are a danger to themselves or others. Another recently passed law takes guns out of the hands of convicted domestic abusers. These are all positive steps to keep our communities safer - but we must do more: we need universal background checks, an end to straw purchases that come in from other states, and more school counselors, social workers, and mental health professionals.
Thursday's violence is another tragic incident that escalated from a threat of violence against a woman in our community. I've spent the past two days on the phone with gun safety leaders, victims advocates, and legislators from around Maryland discussing what we can do to prevent another tragedy like this from ever occurring. It's clear that we must take a hard look at our current laws that seek to protect victims of harassment, stalking, and violent threats and we must redouble our efforts to seek every possible intervention and solution in order to prevent violence.
The incredible response time and courage of our public safety officials, the publication of The Capital the day after this tragedy, and the thousands of community members who gathered last night proved just how strong Annapolis can be. As a community we cannot throw up our hands, claim defeat, and say nothing can be done to combat gun violence. This isn’t normal and we can do something. The safety of our very communities is at stake.
A fund has been set up through the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel to support victims, their colleagues, and their families and to provide immediate relief and long-term recovery support to those individuals directly and indirectly affected by the tragedy. Grants can be applied to grief and trauma counseling, medical expenses not covered by insurance, funeral expenses, and other associated expenses and services.