The June 28 shooting in the newsroom at The Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, hit too close to home.
It could have happened at any newsroom across the country. It could have happened here.
While I didn’t know any of the victims personally, I knew them. I have worked with people just like them for decades. They are brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. More importantly, they are journalists.
As journalists, we do what we do because we care about the communities we write about. We feel an obligation to share the news that comes out of city hall, public meetings, school boards — good and bad. We want to let others in town know what is going on in their city.
We work long and odd hours to get the story told. It’s what we do. It’s the core of who we are.
It’s certainly not for huge paychecks, because those don’t exist. With the realities of shrinking staffs, we are doing more with less than ever before. Still, we persist.
Granted, the thrill of seeing your name in print or uncovering a story that others would prefer remain buried is part of the attraction of the job. But it’s a very small part.
And, no matter what we do or how we cover a particular event or topic, there is bound to be one or more people who disagree with what we wrote or how we wrote it.
They have every right to disagree with that. They even have the right to complain, and there are several people in town who do so — quite loudly — on a regular basis. They even send us threats, try to sully our reputations and question our abilities. None of that, however, gives them the right to come into our place of work and shoot or kill us. Nor will it stop us from doing our jobs.
There are just too many shootings like this. As of June 28, there have been 154 shootings in 2018, according to data provided by the Gun Violence Archive. And it’s only the 186th day of the year. That’s too close to one a day. That’s not acceptable.
What can we do to stop this? There are no easy answers.
Certainly there are those who propose stricter gun laws. It’s a nice idea, but criminals don’t obey the rules. Banishing all firearms also wouldn’t work. Aside from the right to bear arms being guaranteed in our Constitution, eliminating all guns would only force people to find another way to carry out their nefarious plots.
Would going in the opposite direction be any more effective? I’m not sure that allowing everyone to carry firearms would be a good enough deterrent. I just keep envisioning scenes from old Westerns where shootouts happen in saloons or the middle of the street because someone didn’t like the way someone else looked in his direction.
It’s also likely, though, that if people were armed, there might be fewer victims.
In the wake of the shooting at The Capital Gazette, after losing friends and colleagues, the staff still published a paper on Friday. They continued to do what they do because that’s what they do. They are journalists.
So are we.
Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.