I was deep 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 anything happens here, I’m ready.” He opened his jacket revealing a pistol in his waistband holster.
There is no such thing as coincidences. I truly believe that it was God who placed me there that Shabbat (Sabbath) morning to show me exactly what I had to do. I was not going to sit idly by anymore 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 implement the age-old, Holocaust proverb: “Never again.” I was going to find a way for this soon-to-be octogenarian, who never fired a handgun in his life, to learn how to safely and accurately defend myself, my family, and my synagogue against an armed intruder.
Thankfully, Tennessee has made it quite easy for us. I took a three-hour instructional course for beginners. Gun safety was stressed over and over again. Then an NRA expert helped me pick out the appropriate handgun for someone of my age, poor hand strength, and lack of experience. I passed their two-hour online test, followed by a background check. Numerous practice sessions at the Royal Range, right here in Nashville, did the trick. Two weeks later, I had my Tennessee concealed gun permit (and by the way, this permit is not mandatory in Tennessee anymore).
Of course, I will never be completely safe. But now, when I go to the mall, the food shop at Publix, gas up my car or yes, even when I go to pray, I am prepared to defend myself. It does upset me that I have to resort to these measures. But I’m sure that God understands the terrible predicament recent events have put us in.
Last week, we got a reminder of just how close Nashvillians once again came to disaster. God has truly blessed our community with Pastor Ezekiel Ndikumana, who fearlessly brought down an armed intruder during his Sunday service. He, with the help of several other incredibly brave congregants, held this crazed lunatic until the police arrived. The chilling scenes were all caught on video. It showed the gunman wildly aiming his pistol at the congregation, all the while claiming to be Jesus.
When we enter our own House of Worship, we just want to be with others who are there for the same reason. We want to hear inspirational messages from our spiritual leaders. We expect to be safe and never have to worry about our own personal safety. But not anymore. What can we do about it?
- Experts advise us to get involved in our church or synagogue’s security program.
- Always know where the exits are.
- Figure out, in advance, where you could safely hide if you can’t get out.
- As soon as you hear gunshots, or see the danger, grab the kids and get out as soon as possible. There is now a fifth bit of advice that I heard from a retired Tennessee FBI agent during one of those post-event TV interviews.
5- If you are a trained gun owner, pack your weapon with you, even to your church or synagogue.
Once an attack begins, as it recently did in a Memphis Kroger, it’s too late to debate the Second Amendment. It’s too late to claim that background checks didn’t work once again. And it’s too late to blame the gun and not the gunman. We must know what to do.
If we listened to those who want to confiscate our weapons, we would be totally defenseless. I’ve heard these people over and over again, telling us what to do from the safety of their own gated communities. I’m fed up hearing that “it’s the guns causing the problem, not the perpetrators.” I’m tired of politicians, rich sports figures, and famous entertainers pontificating against our right to bear arms, while they are always protected by armed security guards themselves.
For me, “the only thing stopping an armed bad-guy, is a well-trained, armed good-guy” (or in this case, an incredibly brave pastor.) No legislation can keep guns out of the hands of these bad guys. They will always find a way to get them “on the streets.” I’m really glad that here in Tennessee, I can defend myself, my family, and my synagogue until the police arrive.
If I didn’t have a weapon, I guess I could hit the gunman over the head with a framed copy of my college degree. Ha ha. Or better yet, a social worker could discuss the way he was toilet trained as a toddler. Ha ha. But I’ll leave that to some left-wing ideologies at Berkeley or at my alma mater, NYU.
There may come a time when there will be no fearless pastor to protect me. I would have to step up to the plate and try to stop the carnage myself. I hope and pray that I will be ready.
Dr. Steve Morris