Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said Sunday that he disagrees with President Donald Trump’s call for more armed guard sat places of worship in order to prevent shootings like the one that claimed the lives of 11 congregants at a synagogue in the city on Saturday.
Instead, Peduto told NBC’s “Meet the Press,” he believes that gun-control measures would go further to help stop these shootings.
“I belong to an organization, a bipartisan organization, called Mayors Against Illegal Guns,” Peduto said. “I don’t think that the answer to this problem is solved by having our synagogues, mosques and churches filled with armed guards or schools filled with armed guards.”
He added: “We should try to stop irrational behavior from happening at the forefront. And not try to create laws around irrational behavior to continue.”
Mayors Against Illegal Guns is a part of Everytown for Our Safety, a group started by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It calls for gun-control policies including mandating background checks for all gun sales and stiffening penalties for gun sellers who intentionally break the law.
Peduto spoke near the Tree of Life synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, where 11 congregants were killed when a gunman opened fire during the Saturday morning prayer service. Six others were wounded in the attack, including multiple police officers who responded to the scene.
Robert Bowers, the Pennsylvania man arrested at the scene, has been charged with 29 federal counts including murder and hate crimes. He also faces 36 charges from Pennsylvania that include homicide and ethnic intimidation.His social media profiles show rampant posts threatening Jews and sharing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
In the aftermath of the shooting, Trump decried the “evil” of anti-Semitism and reiterated his support for the death penalty.
“It is a terrible, terrible thing what’s going on with hate in our country, frankly, and all over the world. And something has to be done,” Trump said to reporters Saturday as he boarded Air Force One before a campaign event in Indiana.
The president went on to argue that the synagogue could have been better equipped to respond to the shooting if it had armed guards posted regularly inside.
“This is a case where if they had an armed guard inside, they might have been able to stop him immediately,” he said. “Isn’t it a shame that we even have to think of that inside of a temple, or inside of a church, but certainly, the results might have been far better.”
Appearing on “Meet the Press” Sunday, Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive officer of the Anti-Defamation League, lamented the rise of anti-Semitism, which his organization has been tracking well before Saturday’s shooting.
Greenblatt said that in 2017, “we saw a 57 percent surge of acts of harassment, vandalism and violence directed at the Jewish community across the country. It was the single-largest spike we’ve ever seen,” he said.
“We are living in a moment where anti-Semitism is almost becoming normalized, and that should shock and move all of us to act.”