President Trump said more houses of worship should consider using armed guards, after a gunman killed 11 people Saturday morning at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
“If they had an armed guard inside, they might have been able to stop him immediately,” Mr. Trump told reporters. “Isn’t it a shame that we even have to think of that, inside of a temple or inside a church? But certainly the results might have been far better.”
The gunman, identified as 46-year-old Robert Bowers, reportedly shouted that all Jews must die as he opened fire. At least six other people were wounded, including four police officers Mr. Trump spoke to Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, offering the federal government’s assistance.
“It looks definitely like it’s an anti-Semitic crime. That is something you wouldn’t believe could still be going on,” the president said, adding that he has considered canceling a campaign rally in Illinois scheduled for later Saturday.
Asked whether he thought gun laws would prevent such violence, the president said gun control “has little to do with it.”
“If they had protection inside, the results would have been far better,” Mr. Trump said. “This is a dispute that will always exist, I suspect. But if they had some kind of a protection inside the temple, maybe it could have been a very different situation. They didn’t.”
He added, “I hate to think of it that way. This is a world with a lot of problems. Certainly you want protection, and they didn’t have any protection. And they had a maniac walk in. It’s a very difficult thing, for me to stand as president and watch any of this. It is so sad to see. To see this happening again and again and again, it’s just a shame.”
Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey said Mr. Trump’s comments “callous comments show us why we need reasonable gun safety measures in our country.”
“Instead, the president is again dismissing common sense gun laws in favor of *more* guns – this time in our houses of worship,” Mr. Menendez tweeted.
The president also said the death penalty should be sought more often in such cases.
“We should stiffen up our laws in terms of the death penalty. When people do this, they should get the death penalty,” he said. “They shouldn’t have to wait years and years. Now the lawyers will get involved, and everybody’s going to get involved, we’ll be 10 years down the line. I think they should very much bring the death penalty into vogue. Anybody who does a thing like this to innocent people that are in temple or in church … they should really suffer the ultimate price. This has to stop.”
A day after authorities arrested a Florida man for mailing pipe bombs to prominent Democrats, the president said “it’s a terrible, terrible thing, what’s going on with hate in our country, frankly, and all over the world. Something has to be done. The world is a violent world. You think you’re over it, it just sort of goes away, but then it comes back in the form of a madman, a whacko.”
First daughter Ivanka Trump, who is Jewish, said “America is stronger than the acts of a depraved bigot and anti-semite.”
“All good Americans stand with the Jewish people to oppose acts of terror & share the horror, disgust & outrage over the massacre in Pittsburgh,” she tweeted. “We must unite against hatred & evil. God bless those affected.”