The funerals are already getting underway for the victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, even as the city struggles with the question of what to do about such attacks. One thing seems to be off the table before the debate is fully underway, however. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, apparently responding to some comments made by the President, is ruling out the idea of having armed guards in churches, synagogues and mosques as the first line of defense against future mass shootings. How he took on the role of being the person to make such a decision remains unclear. (Washington Post)
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said Sunday that armed guards in places of worship are not the solution, one day after 11 people were killed and six wounded by a gunman at the Tree of Life synagogue in the city.
“I don’t think that the answer to this problem is solved by having our synagogues, mosques and churches filled with armed guards or our schools filled with armed guards,” Peduto said in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
On Saturday, President Trump had suggested that more armed guards could help prevent shootings such as the one in Pittsburgh, comments that echoed the response he has often given after mass shootings throughout the country. But Peduto argued Sunday that the focus should instead be on keeping guns out of the wrong hands.
So what does Mayor Peduto suggest as an alternative? You can probably figure out his idea of a plan from one part of the next sentence out of his mouth. “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.”
I don’t want to fall too far down the stereotypical Democrat rabbit hole here, but it’s probably not much of a surprise that the first words out of this guy’s mouth are “take the guns… out of their hands.” Of course, since we’re talking about prevention or rapid response, Peduto’s idea puts us back into a Tom Cruise/Minority Report situation, where you have to figure out who the shooter is before he goes off the rails and preemptively take his weapons. Never mind the fact that people who are willing to go on a murder spree don’t tend to obey the rules to begin with. And that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of how you take firearms away from somebody like the synagogue shooter based on nothing but his speech. (At least so far, there’s no indication the shooter has a history of mental illness, he’s a licensed gun owner and has passed background checks on at least six occasions.)
This “no armed guards” approach is not unique to the mayor. As I discussed on Saturday, the Pittsburgh Public School Board has rejected a proposal to even arm the police who patrol school campuses. I don’t know if it’s something in the water there or what, but it seems as if officials in that city don’t want anyone but the bad guys to have weapons.
Fortunately for the community, the Mayor doesn’t get to simply wave a magic wand and forbid houses of worship or other private organizations from employing armed guards if they wish. And given recent incidents around the country, it might not be a bad idea for those that can afford to do so.