Driving home from work I noted a police car parked outside the JCC, a second one outside our shul and a 3rd at Chabad. I'm sure that there was one parked up outside every Jewish "target" in the Greater DC area. This of course is the response to the horrific and senseless shooting today at the US Holocaust Museum.
I was at the Holocaust Museum 2 weeks ago with guests from Israel - it's an interesting Museum, filled with school groups from across the States with tickets sold out weeks in advance (entrance is free but if you want a specific time spot ahead of time you have to pay). It's got a very different feel from Yad Vashem and is one of the most visited museums in the country. It also has a hefty security presence of the type with which Israelis are very familiar - think of the Central Bus Station or the Kanyon - X ray machines, metal detectors and big men with guns and no sense of humour.
The US second amendment allows pretty much anyone the right to go into a store and buy a gun - Target doesn't sell them (not around these parts at least) but for a bog standard white supremacist nut (a reminder that it's not just the Islamic extremists who hate us) to get his hands on firearms doesn't take too much.
So the alternate scenario for today is what has got me seriously nervous - this guy chose a hard target - security sitting there armed to the teeth and, although he killed one guard (our thoughts are with his family) he was quickly dealt with (not well enough in my book as he's still in intensive care rather than the morgue). Had he chosen a soft target - walked into a Synagogue on Shabbat morning with a weapon and extra ammo however, the scene would have been one of carnage.
I'm glad to be going back to a place where the rules are so strict that I can't get a gun license just because I want to pack heat (the 2nd is one of the amendments which I don't buy into (the 18th was at least abolished later and the less said about the 19th the better :) ) and where the security services are able to deal with this sort of thing far more effectively than in the land of the free. Oftentimes people will tell me that they consider Israel a dangerous place - for Jews the US is potentially far more dangerous - I just wish people would take the hint before something really horrible happens.