Post-Pittsburgh: Liberals oppose arming houses of worship

In the wake of the massacre at Pittsburgh's Congregation Tree of Life, the notion of protecting houses of worship with firearms has taken on new meaning.

Brooklyn assemblyman Dov Hikind, a very conservative Democrat representing an Orthodox Jewish Republican neighborhood, this week stated:

The idea that someone could come in and there's no one in that synagogue or church that can actually react to someone who's about to use guns and is using guns is insane.  It makes no sense.

Likewise, the Brooklyn borough president, a 22-year veteran of the police department and a conservative Democrat, remarked:

From now on, I will bring my handgun every time I enter a church or synagogue.  I used to carry my gun all the time when I went to church.  If we have police officers standing in front of churches, then we can't say it's wrong for a police officer who's off-duty to be inside churches with a gun.  If they're leaving those firearms home, I now say to them: Stop leaving your firearm home.  Do as I do.  Bring your firearm to church.

Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association of the NYPD, said:

I believe Eric Adams is correct in his assertion to call upon all members of law enforcement to carry their firearms off duty.  We live in a constant state of terrorism and active shooter and vehicle assaults have killed many people.  What has terminated the threat in all these incidents is the arrival of police officers.  The answer is simple.  Ask any victim's family member who was killed during any of these events, if they wished a retired or off duty police officer was present with their firearm and do they believe their family member may have had a chance to live?

This makes sense.  It is a no-brainer.  It is a win-win move that costs nothing and can save precious lives.

Within the Jewish community, many Jews in Pennsylvania are undergoing firearms training, and Mel Bernstein, who owns a gun shop in Colorado, is offering local rabbis free firearms and training.  Additionally, a New York rabbi who is a former policeman and who now heads the International Security Coalition of Clergy is urging congregants to arm themselves: "[s]everal people in every synagogue should have the right to carry a premise permit."  Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis, agrees. 

Despite the fact that this all has nothing to do with loosening gun control measures and everything to do with public safety, as it merely involves training and arming people who by law may be armed, in order to provide much needed protection to the public, some left-wing politicians are in fact condemning it.  Socialist New York City mayor Bill de Blasio's office stated:

While we strongly agree with the Borough President that all New Yorkers deserve to pray in peace, the Mayor doesn't believe more guns in our houses of worship will make us safer.  We trust the security experts at the NYPD to keep our city safe.

Please note that de Blasio has not offered to station NYPD officers in houses of worship; rather, he seems to feel that cops should be expected to rush to houses of worship from several blocks or more away – in order to get there after the carnage has already transpired.  In other words, let the Pittsburgh massacre be repeated. 

Of all people, Pitsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto stated on Meet the Press, "I don't think that the answer to this problem is solved by having our synagogues, mosques and churches filled with armed guards."

Do these liberals not get it?  Why do they feel that houses of worship (and, undoubtedly, schools) should be less secure than banks, government buildings ,and sports stadiums, which have armed guards?  The logic escapes me.

Let us take a lesson from Israeli society, in which nearly all public spaces have armed security on various levels, and, thank God, terrorists are "neutralized" within seconds of commencing their actions.  What would be if not for the ability to put down killers within an instant?  I am scared to consider the alternative.

The late Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik was a preeminent Orthodox Jewish sage, whose profound explication of Talmudic law and Jewish philosophy largely shaped the most recent and current generations of American Orthodox rabbis.  We close with the words of Rabbi Soloveitchik in a 1974 Bible lecture delivered in Boston, his hometown:

Defense is a basic human right.  The dignity of man expresses itself through the latter's ability to take a stand and to defend whatever God gave him, and to defy opposition, if the opposition is wrong.

It would wise of society to take these words to heart; anything less is asking for another massacre.

Avrohom Gordimer is chairman of the Rabbinic Circle at Coalition for Jewish Values and is a member of the Rabbinical Council of America and the New York Bar.  He serves on the editorial board of Jewish Action magazine, is a staff writer for the Cross-Currents website and is a frequent contributor to Israel National News and a host of other publications.  By day, he works as an account executive at a large Jewish organization based in Manhattan.  The views expressed in the above article are solely those of the writer.

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