A posthumous recognition

Knights of Columbus honor mass shooting victim

During the Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention last week in Minneapolis, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson posthumously named Kendrick Castillo a Knight of Columbus. Castillo, 18, was shot and killed during a mass shooting May 7 at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Littleton, Colo., where he was a senior. Eight others were wounded.

At the time, Castillo was the 126th person in the United States to be killed by an armed gunman in 2019, according to gunviolencearchive.org. As we know, he wasn’t the last. Since May 7, 149 other people have been killed in mass shootings.

“Kendrick wanted to be a Knight because of what he experienced growing up and knowing the good that they did. Without a doubt, Kendrick loved being in the church, ushering and serving the community,” said his father, John Castillo, a member of KC Southwest Denver Council 4844.

John and his wife, Maria, attended the convention and also accepted the KC’s Caritas Medal on their son’s behalf. This award was created in 2013 and recognizes extraordinary acts of charity and service, according to the Knights. Kendrick, who is just the fourth recipient of the award, reportedly lunged at his classmate when he pulled out a gun in class, giving other classmates time to run and hide.

Honoring Kendrick by making him a Knight and bestowing upon him the Caritas Medal are both admirable gestures by the Knights of Columbus. But there is something that they, and other organizations that have lost friends to this country’s gun violence, can do: call on lawmakers to ban the sale and possession of assault rifles (military-style, semiautomatic weapons), high-capacity magazines and accessories that turn firearms into semiautomatic weapons, and require universal background checks and waiting periods on the purchase of firearms.

Mass shootings are now becoming a regular occurrence across the country, with three incidents — in Gilroy, Calif., El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio — happening within an eight-day span, resulting in 36 dead and 63 injured. U.S. flags were ordered to be flown at half-staff following the most recent shootings.

If we were to fly the flag at half-staff each day for each person killed by gunfire, it’s possible it would never be flown to its full glory again.

Americans in positions of power, who could quickly act to change the culture of gun violence in this country, seemingly refuse to do so. While some point to the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects the right to keep and bear arms, they forget that this amendment was created to protect citizens, not guns, and that it does not prevent laws regulating gun use.

In announcing Kendrick Castillo’s membership into the Knights, Supreme Knight Anderson noted that Kendrick “wanted to become a Knight of Columbus because he wanted to help not only people, but his community.”

It’s time organizations and individuals do, indeed, help communities by preventing mass shootings, by convincing lawmakers that enough is enough. Either pass meaningful gun control legislation or step aside and let others begin the process.

The Knights are famous for recognizing and promoting the sacredness of life. Bestowing posthumous awards should not have to be part of this mission. The same goes for all good people of faith.