The California Synagogue: On the Nature of Violence and Response

From USA Today

Over the weekend, while many in the gun community were focused on the products and events at NRAAM an attack took place at the Poway Synagogue in California. The attempted mass casualty attack was stopped very early, however. Anti-semitism and attacks against synagogues are unfortunately far from an unknown, faith based attacks seem to be trending right now as rhetoric blames one or another overarching religion for the woes of the world.

San Diego County Sheriff William Gore said the shooter at Chabad of Poway used an “AR-type assault weapon” that killed Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60. Three others were injured in the shooting. -USA Today

The shooter, 19 years old and in custody, was courting another terrorist attack response similar in scope to New Zealand and Sri Lanka. This one happened to be anti-semitic, Sri Lanka was anti-christian, New Zealand was anti-islam. All the result of an individual weaponizing their desires.

The result in California though, is telling. While the article from USA Today quoted above digs into the question of whether or not the rifle was in a CA compliant configuration and they dig up an anti-gun veteran to leverage “expertise” on the subject, the salient point is how the attack was stopped.

USA Today seems to try and credit it to California’s functional restrictions, while in the same breathe wondering if it was outside the restrictions and illegal, but I have a different theory.

The 19 year old who attacked the Poway Synagogue met with effective resistance, he met with someone shooting back. The 60 year old woman he killed protected the synagogue rabbi. The congregate who the rabbi had asked to help protect the place of prayer showed up to do just that, and that CBP agent had his gun.

The rifle is said to have jammed during the attack and that is a fortunate circumstance, but the CBP agent using his sidearm truly broke the attack and caused the assailant to flee with only the brave woman dead and three others wounded.

The same article laudes the California feature list for jamming the rifle even as it insinuates their unstoppable weapon of mass destruction killing potential. It’s a reaching piece seeking to blame everyone it can, the gun store that sells CA compliant parts, the out of state gun stores that aren’t required to have CA compliant parts where he ‘might‘ have acquired non-compliant merchandise, the fact semi-autos are legal at all, leaving only blame by proxy for the actual shooter. The one who picked up the rifle and shot it is the sideshow to the gun inself.

On Violence

I have said it before and I will say it every single time the focus of a violent attack becomes the method.

Method does not matter during the occurrence. Motivation matters tangentially, this appears to be a copycat directly off of New Zealand. According to the alleged linked manifesto that is it exactly, but even that is independent of the violent act occurring. What matters immediately, in the moment, right there where you are the only one who can influence the situation in your favor… is your response. In that regard method does matter as it forumalates the response options you thought to bring or need to come up with.

Violence requires only a motivating factor that weighs heavier than the principles of civil society. Gun controllers have their hearts set on a civil answer to an uncivil problem. If a civil answer were the answer (ban, license, regulate, etc.) the wonderful circumstance of that would be not needing the answer in the first place, civility would preclude the improper use of violence entirely as it does so mostly every single day.

On Response

What should our response to this be?

Immediately, during the attack, it is to respond and survive. Shoot back, pack wounds, and get responder help coming as quickly as they can.

Surviving is not guaranteed… The heroics and swift response of the good people at the synagogue saved lives. The armed CBP congregate attending was a decisive ace in the sleeve of the worshippers. Armed response to armed attack works, and nothing works better.

The “thoughts and prayers” of mourners world wide have been mocked roundly as a non-response by select elements, but in reality thoughts and prayers are all that gun control consists of… the thought that if everyone followed this law no one would be shot, and the prayer that having the law will catch the next individual motivated to attack by making a firearm less convenient to acquire.

What should we do?

We start refocusing again on civility across the entirety of our political and social spectrums. We won’t always succeed. Sometimes we will fail to be civil and sometimes someone else will, but with a greater culture of civility these become discussions and not attacks. When we are attacked, especially unjustly, we respond. When we feel there is a threat to ourselves, our livelihoods, our our families, or our community we seek to step up and deal with it. With the culture of outrage that has been fostered, veiled thinly as discourse, we have lost civility.

With that loss each perceived attack becomes more threatening, more dramatic, more in need of retaliation. It allows those already close to an uncivil response, a violent response to slight perceived, to justify to themselves crossing the line.

We will never eradicate violence from the human condition. Gun control will never work to remove the motivations, its snake oil in a shiny bottle claiming to cure the woes of murder and suicide.

A society where we are civil though? Where we don’t assume malice when ignorance is the logical answer? A society where our default is discussion, not veiled dictation, and we seek to learn before any thought of retaliation? That is something we can foster.

First, true logic.

If that doesn’t work.

Speed, Surprise, and Violence of Action.

Keith Finch
Keith is the former Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. He got told there was a mountain of other things that needed doing, so he does those now and writes here when he can. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. Teaching since 2009, he covers local concealed carry courses, intermediate and advanced rifle courses, handgun, red dot handgun, bullpups, AKs, and home defense courses for civilians, military client requests, and law enforcement client requests.