This morning, I was shocked and stunned once again by the tragic killing of what is now 11 people by a gunman at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Far too often, in recent years, we have heard about gunman entering churches and killing innocent people as they worshiped. I can recall being on the phone with my friend, NC Senator Malcom Graham, when he learned that his sister was one of the victims of the tragic killing of parishioners of a Black Church in Charleston, South Carolina. These types of senseless, random acts of violence are occurring far too frequently. Today, I heard that the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish organization, had recorded a 57% increase this past year in acts of violence against Jews in our country. Apparently, the gunman, on this occasion, was apprehended by police officers who understood their duty to protect and serve, and four of them were unfortunately wounded. The gunman, once again, had an assault rifle as well as three sidearms.
We must, as a nation, have the political will to control and limit access to firearms and ammunition. Our leaders in Washington must also stop using divisive rhetoric that causes political extremists to feel comfortable spewing their hatred and engaging in violent acts against others. Unfortunately, our president, when questioned about this incident, felt that the answer to what occurred would’ve been best addressed by having security at the synagogue. We should not have to fortify our churches and synagogues to be safe. Instead, changing laws related to access to firearms, particularly assault weapons, is critical and necessary, as well as eliminating divisive political rhetoric.