I have attended many vigils and funeral services in my years as a news reporter. I did so primarily as a general assignment reporter covering crime in New York City throughout the early 2000s.
In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, I attended dozens of funerals for firefighters and other first-responders who perished during the collapse of the World Trade Center in the biggest terror attack on American soil.
There is a new terror threat that faces our nation. The rise of domestic terrorists with easy access to guns have made even a routine weekend trip to the mall something to fear. Those memories of covering vigils and funerals — many involving children and teens shot and killed in senseless gang violence — came flooding back to my mind this past weekend.
The back-to-back massacres — one at a Texas Walmart on Saturday and another in an Ohio nightclub the following day — cast a pall on our nation at a time when many families are enjoying time at the beach.
Again, the violence had to do with guns. As flowers and candles piled up at both scenes of the tragedy, the political response was all about finger-pointing and racism. It was yet another example of our country’s increased political (and news media) polarization. Mainstream media news coverage could be summed out this way: Democrats blamed President Donald Trump’s rhetoric, while Republicans pointed the finger at mental illness and violent video games.
The news coverage was predictable, boilerplate even. As usual, it lacked any real focus on religion, either in the many main news stories of the first few days or the sidebars that evolved. You would think the aftermath of two major tragedies wouldn’t lack talk of faith. Instead, the focus was politics — both regarding the motives of the shooters in each case and the need for gun control.
It’s a topic that comes up each time there is a mass shooting. And each time the coverage lacks any real consideration for what faith-based organizations are doing to try and stop future incidents. That is, have religious leaders offered more than prayers.
In this case, what the Catholic church has done to reduce gun violence has gone largely unreported or underreported the past few years.