Hours after a gunman — later identified by the media as 46-year-old Robert Bowers — opened fire at a Pittsburgh synagogue, former President Barack Obama addressed the nation via Twitter, The Hill reports.
Obama expressed his condolences for the victims of the shooting, and urged Americans to “fight the rise of anti-Semitism.”
“We grieve for the Americans murdered in Pittsburgh. All of us have to fight the rise of anti-Semitism and hateful rhetoric against those who look, love, or pray differently.”
The former president also addressed the fact that the shooter was able to obtain a deadly firearm, arguing that the United States needs to “stop making it so easy for those who want to harm the innocent to get their hands on a gun.”
According to Time, the suspected shooter was armed with an assault rifle and three hand guns. He reportedly barricaded himself in the third floor the Tree of Life Synagogue after shooting 11 and wounding six individuals, and then exchanged fire with the police.
The shooting took place during a traditional Jewish baby-naming ceremony.
While authorities have not yet officially discussed the shooter’s motive, according to messages posted to his alleged Gab — a social media platform similar to Twitter – profile, he is racist, xenophobic, and an anti-Semite.
Just moments before shooting and killing 11 individuals, Bowers left a message on Gab accusing the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society of bringing in “invaders that kill our people.”
“I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in,” he wrote.
In the aftermath of the Pittsburgh shooting, unlike Obama, President Trump did not call for gun control.
“If there was an armed guard inside the temple, they would have been able to stop him,” Trump said, according to CNN, suggesting that the outcome would have been different had an armed guard been present in the Tree of Life Synagogue.
"It's a terrible, terrible thing, what's going on with hate in our country. … and something has to be done." Trump reacts to the shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, saying the suspect could've been stopped if the place of worship had armed protection. https://t.co/qD7qd9VMad pic.twitter.com/kNZGoFp6h3
— CNN (@CNN) October 27, 2018
After being pressed on the issue, Trump insisted that there is no need for the administration to revisit gun laws and introduce stricter gun control measures.
The Pittsburgh shooting, according to President Trump, “has little to do” with gun control laws.
On the issue of gun control, Obama and Trump are polar opposites.
In a 2016 interview with the BBC, Obama called gun control laws “the greatest frustration” of his presidency, complaining about not being able to pass enough gun control proposals.
The former president failed to do so because because of Congress, according to CBS News, which noted that more than 100 gun control proposals between 2011-2016 simply failed after never reaching the House or Senate floor.