Our View: Honoring Officer Gannon

Rev. Russ Allen, a Chronicle columnist and retired minister, delivered the following words at the Peace Candle Ceremony Sunday morning at the Federated Church in Orleans.

The announcement was simple yet shocking. Yarmouth Police K-9 Officer Sean Gannon. EOW: 4/12/18. (EOW means “End of Watch.”)

I light the Peace Candle this morning in honor of this 32-year-old married law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty, and of his K-9 partner Nero who was injured in the same incident. You may already know what happened in Marstons Mills last Thursday, and perhaps you have participated in the outpouring of grief and support that followed those events. I will not recall them in detail, but as a retired police chaplain I would like to share a few brief thoughts concerning law enforcement and gun violence.

Some hold that the police inappropriately resort to deadly force. Yet throughout their careers the vast majority of police officers never draw or discharge their weapons other than at their department firing ranges. For the few who do it is in the belief that their lives or that of innocent citizens are in danger, and even then they fire those weapons only as a last resort. Officer Gannon may never have had that choice.

Some hold the view that the solution to gun violence in America is more people having more guns. The basis for that position is their belief that a good person with a gun will always prevail against a bad person with a gun. The shooting of Officer Gannon demonstrates the flaw in that theory.

Some hold that gun violence is not really a problem for people who live in the towns and villages of Cape Cod. We do not have to worry about it, much less do anything about it, because it does not happen here. The shooting of Officer Gannon has brought home and made personal a cancer that has festered across this land for too many years.

Last December when I spoke at the lighting of the Peace Candle marking the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre I ended by quoting these words from John Donne:

“Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee."

The bell is tolling for K-9 Officer Sean Gannon – may this Peace Candle be a symbol of hope for an end to the gun violence that killed him.