It Could Have Been So Much Worse. Really?

I heard someone say that what happened Saturday wasn’t a massacre or even a mass shooting; only one person died and three or four were slightly injured. Someone else added that the only reason it wasn’t worse was because the AR-15 jammed. Someone else insisted that was because the rabbi jammed the gun with his stare. (Really?) Of course, in the process, two of his fingers were blown off, but who’s counting? It wasn’t a massacre.

It could’ve been much worse.

Lori Gilbert-Kaye saw the terrorist aim his gun, and stepped in front of the rabbi. She is the one who died.

It could’ve been so much worse.

The rabbi turned to face the terrorist and raised his hands; that’s when two fingers were shot off. Bleeding, the rabbi ran into the sanctuary to get kids, including his 4-year old granddaughter, out of harm’s way. And when the terrorist fled, he went to the bimah to speak. He was still bleeding.

It could’ve been so much worse.

All I could think of when I heard the rabbi was on his way to start Yizkor was that kids had to be heading out into the hallway. Anyone who grew up in a traditional kinda shul knows that you don’t stay for Yizkor if your parents are alive. Those kids, if they were anything like my kids, were in the process of leaving the sanctuary to go hang out while parents and grandparents cry a lot.

It could’ve been so much worse.

Sure, lots more people could’ve died on the last day of Passover if this 19 year-old terrorist had been able to keep firing. How much worse does it have to be before it’s worse enough?

It could’ve been so much worse is right up there with thoughts and prayers.
Excuse me while I go vomit.

Someone could’ve walked right into Sunday morning minyan at my shul, the one next door to city hall and our little cop house, and taken out 17 Jews before anyone could’ve gotten to us. It could happen in any shul, in any state, on any day. Yeah, we have some security in place, but if you’re coming in the door we make the grand assumption you are coming in the door to pray. Isn’t that what a shul is for?

Or a church . . . or a mosque, for that matter?

We know we run the risk of being wrong.

Four-year old kids in preschool know what an active-shooter drill is. Elementary through high school run active-shooter drills with regularity. I happen to know my shul has an active-shooter plan. And y’know the scariest part about all of it? This isn’t about a guy with a pistol or a regular rifle. This is about someone with an automatic or semi-automatic weapon obtained legally with the intent to use it to kill people. Jews. Muslims. African Americans. In houses of worship.


This is the new form of human sacrifice.

People who attack people at prayer are offering human sacrifice to whatever god happens to be in their twisted pantheon. The terrorists are spilling blood on the holy ground of others to sanctify themselves in a new kind of death cult. The swastikas, the skulls, the Confederate flags, the lightning bolts are all logos calling for the death of the other. The blood of your enemy makes your stronger? Their altar is our bimah covered in our blood.

We . . . people of faith . . . stand on that altar voluntarily every day. We keep going to services and study groups because we are not going to let terror change the very foundation of who we are. We are in the line of fire and we know it. We are neither blind nor stupid. We are acutely aware that we are targets. Right now, Jews and Muslims in the US are in the cross-hairs. We know this will not be the last such attack. There will be more.

And they will be so much worse.

They buried Lori Gilbert-Kaye on Monday. In a plain box the way we do it. Lots of people were there honoring a woman who died the way she lived . . . caring for another human being. She who was at shul to say Yizkor for her own mother became a hero.. I’m certain she did not wake up on Shabbat morning and think, today is a good day to become a hero. I’m sure she was thinking about putting away pesadik dishes after sundown because that’s what Jewish women think about on the last day of Passover.
It could not have been worse the family of Lori Gilbert-Kaye.

The real bottom line here is that we live in a country that does not love its people as much as it loves weapons of mass destruction. We cannot get our civil act together to ban assault weapons. Most civilized countries do not allow private ownership of this kind of gun. I’m not naive; banning them won’t stop people from running out to buy them before the ban, but truth be told, this is not a Second Amendment issue.

This is a hate issue.

There is no reason in this country to own an automatic/semi-automatic weapon. You can’t conceal it for personal protection. It’s not a hunting rifle . . . unless you’re hunting Jews, Muslims, African Americans, or even country music fans. The finest people in our country already know exactly that. We are so on to them. Eventually, someone will shoot up something that even the GOP can’t talk down. It will happen.

Unfortunately, we are going to have to wait for it.

About the Author
New York born, but living in Minnesota, S. J. Schwaidelson is a political blogger and novelist. Her own blog, The Wifely Person Speaks, appears weekly and is followed world-wide. Information about her novels, DREAM DANCER and LINGUA GALACTICA, can be found on Goodreads and at Amazon.
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