President Trump blamed the deadly shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue on the lack of armed security and insisted it had little to do with lax gun laws.
“This is a case where if they had an armed guard inside, they might have been able to stop him immediately,” Trump told reporters just hours after the shooting. “If they had protection inside, the results would have been far better.”
The president says the problem is a lack of armed guards inside a house of worship https://t.co/xBTtuTM6wR— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) October 27, 2018
Trump also suggested that the rapid imposition of the death penalty might prevent such mass shootings.
“When people do this, they should get the death penalty and they shouldn’t have to wait years and years,” he said. “They should pay the ultimate price.”
The president repeatedly referred to the shooter, identified as 46-year-old Robert Bowers, who was taken into custody, as a “wacko,” a “maniac” and “crazy.”
Trump made similar remarks about armed guards after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida left 17 dead.
Trump’s comments drew fierce condemnation on social media from many who saw him as blaming the synagogue for the incident. Virginia Democratic House Rep. Don Beyer criticized the president for a “lack of empathy.”
Trump’s plan to combat these tragedies is to put guns and armed guards in places of worship. His lack of empathy is just staggering. https://t.co/SFTekhkTjQ — Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) October 27, 2018
Trump denouonced the shooting at the start of a campaign rally in Indianapolis that anti-Semitism “must be condemned and confronted everywhere and anywhere it appears.”
He quickly pivoted to political point-scoring, repeatedly trumpeted his policies and welcomed Republican politicians to the stage for rounds of applause. He also blasted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and explained that his hair was out of place because he was caught in the windswept rain.
Trump also blasted “globalists,” a term that is widely derided as an anti-Semitic dog whistle.
—With Reuters and JTA