When asked to respond to Saturday's synagogue shooting in the Squirrel Hill neighbourhood of Pittsburgh, President Donald Trump indicated that this latest mass shooting would not spur any change to existing gun laws in the US.
Speaking to a group of reporters at Joint Base Andrews, Trump referred to existing gun laws as “having little to do” with the shooting, in a video shared by CNN. “If there was an armed guard inside the temple, they would have been able to stop [the shooter].”
The wounded includes four armed police officers who arrived at the scene. In his statement, Trump did not consider any plans to consider gun control legislation that would drastically reduce the frequency of mass shootings — even proposals that are popular with the public — because “this dispute will always exist.”
Earlier, Trump also said in a tweet, “Events in Pittsburgh are far more devastating than originally thought,” adding later to reporters that it was a “terrible, terrible thing.” He also said that the crime “appears” to be a hate crime. “We're learning a lot about it. It looks definitely like it's an anti-Semitic crime,” he said. He then expressed incredulity that hate crimes and mass shootings still occur, saying, “That is something you wouldn't believe could still be going on.” Trump also promised to address the shooting further at an event in Indianapolis, Illinois, later this evening.
Democratic Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf parted ways with the president’s apparent reluctance to consider strengthening gun laws in the wake of the latest mass shooting. “We must all pray and hope for no more loss of life,” he said, reported the Associated Press. “But we have been saying ‘this one is too many’ for far too long. Dangerous weapons are putting our citizens in harm’s way.”
Parkland shooting survivor and activist David Hogg also expressed his regret at inertia regarding gun control legislation, but also his willingness to continue the “fight.” In a tweet, he wrote: “It hurts every time I see these headlines and then the political inaction... but we have the power to change it. Squirrel Hill my heart is with you. We will fight for you every single day.”
Trump has previously declined to push for any gun legislation and has floated the idea of arming teachers in schools as a means of defecse. After the Las Vegas mass shooting in 2017, which killed 58 people and injured over 600 more, Trump endorsed legislation banning the sale of bump stocks [an attachment that enables a semiautomatic rifle to fire faster], and stated that such action is “coming soon.”