Donald Trump’s answer to Saturday’s horrific shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was the same as his response to the Parkland school massacre earlier this year: flood the zone with even more guns.
“If they had protection inside, the results would have been far better,” the president said in the immediate aftermath of the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue, where congregants, many of them elderly, had gathered for Sabbath services.
Armed guards would have made all the difference, the president said, reprising a position he has taken after various mass shootings. “If they had some kind of a protection inside the temple, maybe it could have been a very much different situation. They didn’t,” said Trump on Saturday.
The mayor of Pittsburgh didn’t think much of that solution.
“I’ve heard the president’s comments of how we should arm guards in our synagogues, our churches, our mosques. I’ve heard the conversation over the past year about how we should arm security guards in our schools,” said Mayor Bill Peduto (D).
“We’re dealing with irrational behavior. There is no way that you can rationalize a person walking into a synagogue during services and taking the lives of 11 people,” Peduto said.
“We shouldn’t be trying to find ways to minimize the dangers that occur from irrational behavior. We should be working to eliminate irrational behavior and the empowerment of people who would seek to cause this type of carnage from continuing,” he continued.
“I think the approach that we need to be looking at is how we take the guns, which is the common denominator of every mass shooting in America, out of the hands of those that are looking to express hatred through murder.”
The reaction from the president may have been less-than-helpful, but it was true to form. He made similar remarks for example after a mass shooting at a church in Texas last year.
And of course, he famously proposed introducing guns into schools following the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 teachers and students dead.
The NRA also likes to propagate the myth that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” But as ThinkProgress’s Luke Barnes reported in February, a 2012 a study by the Violence Policy Center found that someone carrying a gun was 4.46 times more likely to be shot in an assault — calculations that add up to more violence, not less.
At Sunday’s press conference officials identified the alleged gunman as 46-year-old Robert Bowers. Authorities have said he had a history of making anti-Jewish comments on online forums. Officials said he had an account on Gab, a social media site favored by white supremacists.