Elena Sorrentino Editor-in-Chief
Saturday, Oct. 27, a shooter entered a Pittsburgh synagogue and opened fire on the worshipers inside. This shooting follows a year full of gun control controversy, and adds flames to an already overwhelming fire.
Robert D. Bowers, the perpetrator of the attack, entered the Tree of Life Congregation with an assault rifle and multiple handguns. Using the weapons, he killed eleven people and injured six more. According to the Gun Violence Archive, whose mission is to “provide free online public access to accurate information about gun-related violence in the United States,” this incident was the 294th mass shooting in the US in 2018. They also cite that over 12,000 people this year have died from gun related events. Meanwhile, there is still controversy over whether or not more restrictive gun laws need to be enacted.
A New York Times article cites this incident as the deadliest anti-Semitic hate crime in recent US history. Throughout the attack, Bower continually shouted anti-Jewish commentary, for which he was known for also sharing on online forums, such as Gab. His social media accounts, which have since been deactivated, were filled with anti-Semitic posts. Bowers was intercepted by armed officers attempting to leave the crime scene, and the two parties engaged in a shootout where Bowers was injured and consequently apprehended. He faces over 29 charges, and many people argue that he should face the death penalty. One of these people is President Trump, who stated, “When people do this they should get the death penalty, and they shouldn’t have to wait years and years. Now the lawyers will get involved and everyone is going to get involved and we’ll be ten years down the line.”
Many people are criticizing President Trump’s response to this travesty. On Saturday he addressed the event, stating, “This has little to do with [gun laws], if you take a look. If they had protection inside the results would have been far better. This is a dispute that will always exist, I expect.” He visited Pittsburgh on Tues. Oct. 30, where several of the victims’ families, as well as national and local officials, refused to meet with him. Meanwhile, Jeffrey Myers, the Rabbi of the Tree of Life Congregation, discusses the growing rift in the political atmosphere as a whole. He tells CNN reporter, “Words of hate must cease…I said to our elected leaders, that ‘you’re the leaders, we turn to you. You’re the models for our country. When you speak words of hate, when you speak ill of the other candidate— any words of hate Americans listen to you… when you speak words of hate you tell them this is okay.’”