October 27, 2018 was a normal Saturday morning in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood at the Tree of Life Synagogue building. Dan Leger had gathered with his regular group to prepare for Torah study with Congregation Dor Hadash – another congregation that worshiped in the Tree of Life building. It quickly became clear that there was nothing normal about this day.
At the end of the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history and the most lethal mass killing in modern Pennsylvania history, 11 had been shot fatally and six had been wounded. A community was shattered.
Pittsburgh joined the list of cities – from Newtown to Uvalde and far too many others to name – who are bound together by the burden of an atrocity perpetrated by a gunman armed with a weapon of war. AR-15’s are designed to kill as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. And Dan Leger found himself on the receiving end of bullets fired from this high-powered rifle. He barely survived and his life will never be the same.
For a decade, these kinds of military-style weapons were banned nationally. And, if that law was still in place, these mass shootings may have never have happened, and definitely wouldn’t have been as fatal. The system is deadlier by design.
This is Dan’s story.