I was immersed in prayer. During a lull in the service, my friend and I discussed all the terrorist attacks in our churches and synagogues. “Oh, don’t worry,” he said. “If something happens here, I’m ready.” He opened his jacket revealing a gun in his belt holster.
Coincidences do not exist. I truly believe that it was God who placed me there that Shabbat (Sabbath) morning to show me exactly what to do. I was no longer going to sit back and be a victim. I will not depend on others to protect me until our brave first responders arrive on the scene.
I decided to apply the age-old proverb of the Holocaust: “Never again”. I was going to find a way for this future octogenarian, who has never fired a handgun in his life, to learn how to defend myself, my family, and my synagogue safely and accurately against an armed intruder.
Fortunately, Tennessee made it easy for us. I took a three hour beginners course. Gun safety has been emphasized time and time again. Then an NRA expert helped me choose the right handgun for someone my age, with low hand strength and inexperience. I passed their two-hour online test, followed by a background check. Many workouts at the Royal Range, right here in Nashville, did the trick. Two weeks later, I had my concealed weapon license in Tennessee (and by the way, this license is no longer required in Tennessee).
Of course, I will never be completely safe. But now, when I go to the mall, the Publix grocery store, gas up my car, or yes, even when I go to pray, I’m ready to defend myself. It bothers me to have to resort to these measures. But I’m sure God understands the terrible predicament that recent events have put us in.
Last week, we were reminded how close Nashvillians were to disaster again. God has truly blessed our community with Pastor Ezekiel Ndikumana, who fearlessly shot and killed an armed intruder during his Sunday service. He, with the help of several other incredibly brave devotees, held this madman down until the police arrived. The scary scenes were all filmed. It showed the shooter pointing his gun wildly at the congregation, while pretending to be Jesus.
When we come into our own house of worship, we just want to be with others who are there for the same reason. We want to hear inspiring messages from our spiritual leaders. We expect to be safe and we never have to worry about our personal safety. But not anymore. What can we do about it?
- Experts advise us to get involved in our church or synagogue’s safety program.
- Always know where the exits are.
- Determine in advance where you could safely hide if you can’t get out.
- As soon as you hear gunshots or see danger, grab the kids and get out as soon as possible. Now there’s a fifth piece of advice I heard from a retired Tennessee FBI agent during one of those post-event TV interviews.
5- If you are a trained gun owner, take your gun with you, even to your church or synagogue.
Once an attack begins, as it did recently at a Memphis Kroger, it’s too late to debate the Second Amendment. It’s too late to claim that background checks didn’t work again. And it’s too late to blame the gun and not the shooter. We have to know what to do.
If we listened to those who want to confiscate our weapons, we would be totally defenseless. I have heard these people time and time again telling us what to do from the safety of their own gated communities. I’m sick of hearing that “it’s the guns that cause the problem, not the perpetrators”. I am tired of politicians, wealthy sports personalities and famous artists who pontificate against our right to bear arms, while they themselves are still protected by armed security guards.
To me, “the only thing that stops a bad guy with guns is a good, well-trained, gun-toting guy” (or in this case, an incredibly brave pastor.) No legislation can stop these bad guys from having guns . . They will always find a way to put them “in the street”. I’m so glad that here in Tennessee I can defend myself, my family and my synagogue until the police arrive.
If I didn’t have a gun, I guess I could hit the shooter in the head with a framed copy of my college degree. Ha ha. Or better yet, a social worker could discuss how he was toilet trained as a toddler. Ha ha. But I’ll leave that to certain leftist ideologies in Berkeley or my alma mater, NYU.
There may come a time when there won’t be a fearless pastor to protect me. I should step in and try to stop the carnage myself. I hope and pray to be ready.
Dr Steve Morris