“All Jews must die.” That is what Robert Bowers told police after entering the Tree of Life synagogue and and opening fire on families united in joy and prayer. The phrase claws its way through me and breaks my heart. The phrase is on repeat as I imagine my grandparents’ congregation bloodied on the floor.

Will they have to get a new carpet?

For some reason, that question is what cracked it for me — what made it go from just a part of the daily dredge of shootings to real people lying bloody and dead on floors I have walked. And it is not about me. Or my grandparents. It is about all of us: “All Jews must die.” A whole community riddled with bullets because a man got his hands on guns and got to make this decision. He decided that the people who raised me, the communities that sprung from a people who suffered an indescribable genocide, the families that come together to pray every Saturday morning and who welcome refugees, the congregations nationwide that preach love and acceptance and peace, needed to be shot off the face of this Earth. And he got to make this decision because he got to buy a gun.

It is hard for me to feel optimistic right now. I want to be with the people I love. I want to breathe and to appreciate that I am alive to take that breath. I know that the solution is not for us to have to go through airport-level security just to get into our synagogue or mosque or church. But I also know that we are not helpless. If we had different gun control laws, this never would have happened. What I know more than anything in this devastatingly confusing time is that we have to vote. Vote always, but especially vote in the upcoming midterm election. Changing our representation in government to leaders who believe in gun control will help prevent massacres like this from happening. It will ensure that guns do not end up in the hands of those who intend to point them at innocent people. It will save lives.

Maya Rubin-Wish (21C) is from Montclair, N.J.

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