Are candlelight vigils the appropriate response to evil?

I've always felt a little uncomfortable about candlelight vigils in response to man-made tragedies.

Certainly, if people are killed by a deranged criminal, friends of the victims want to meet and have a memorial to remember their friends.  But when someone guns down 17 people in a school, and a large number of people gather, apparently entirely unarmed, to mourn with candles, there seems something a little odd about that.

I mean, if people are protesting the fact that a bunch of unarmed kids were slaughtered by a guy with a gun, by gathering, also without arms, aren't they just inviting the same thing to happen again?  How does mourning those who were lost do anything to prevent the same thing from happening again?  It feels like a wholly inadequate response to evil.

If 17 kids were shot in my local school, I wouldn't waste time with candles.  I'd be out there demanding more security at my local school, demanding that teachers be armed.  Instead of rallies that looked like this:

...I would think there would be rallies that looked more like this:

What do you think?  Am I totally off base by characterizing candlelight vigils as naïve, pacifist sheep-like responses to evil, or do you agree that demonstrations against man-made tragedies have to have more teeth to them, more defiance, and more problem-solving and less aromatherapy?

Ed Straker is the senior writer at