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People outraged over Trump's call for arming synagogues — but many Jewish leaders are on board

Synagogues around the country talk about arming themselves in the wake of the deadly Pittsburgh massacre that claimed 11 lives and injured several more. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump faced heavy criticism for his suggestion that an armed guard could have reduced the deadly violence at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday.

But here's the rub: Many Jewish leaders are proponents of such action, and many synagogues have been armed for quite some time now.

What did Trump say, anyway?

On the day of the deadly massacre, Trump said that "results would have been far better" if the Pittsburgh synagogue had had armed guards stationed.

"If they had protection inside, the results would have been far better," Trump told reporters. "If they had some kind of protection within the temple it could have been a much better situation. They didn’t."

During a stop later in the day, Trump doubled down on his remarks: "This is a case where if they had an armed guard inside they may have been able to stop him immediately, maybe there would have been nobody killed, except for him maybe."

The mass murder suspect took the lives of 11 people, and injured several more. Authorities charged the suspect with several crimes, including hate crimes.

What are they saying around the country?

Temple Isaiah, a Reform Judaism congregation in Los Angeles, isn't happy about the idea of armed guards roaming the synagogue — but the practice has been in place for over a year, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“None of us want this,” Rabbi Dara Frimmer explained. “But we’re just living in a different era.”

Frimmer isn't the only one advocating to keep congregants safe.

Rabbi Alan Londy of the New Reform Temple in Kansas City, Missouri, said that not an event goes by that isn't monitored by off-duty policemen.

“I don’t want to give too much away,” Londy told the Kansas City Star. “But let me tell you this. We have nothing — we don’t do Sunday school, or Shabbat services or any major event, including funerals — without off-duty policemen.”

Londy said that it's high time that the U.S. implement stricter security protocol to protect sacred places of worship and noted that, in other parts of the world, security at holy places has been in place for decades.

“In America,” he said, “we have just been living in la-la land.”

“I was just in London,” he said. “I went to a synagogue on a Friday night. They quizzed you. You just couldn’t get in. When I was in Rome years ago — you’re talking maybe 30 years ago — I couldn’t get into a synagogue. And I’m a rabbi.”

“I am not paranoid at all,” he added. “But truth be told, I think it is going to be worse. Anti-Semitism in our country: I think something has been unleashed that is really horrible.”

Rabbi Moshe Rube of Knesseth Israel Congregation in Birmingham, Alabama, told TMZ that he is considering having armed guards or licensed congregants on the premises during worship.

Rabbi Gary Moskowitz — president of American Security Council and a former New York City police officer — told WCBS-TV that being able to defend oneself, and others, if necessary, is of utmost importance.

According to the station, Moskowitz offers professional gun training to rabbis and synagogue employees.

Moskowitz teaches classes "how to draw the weapon," "how to shoot while you're in motion," "how to shoot while they're in motion," and "how to make sure you don't hit bystanders."

“I hope they never have to use it, but if you don’t have a gun, how are you going to fight back against someone shooting at you?” Moskowitz asked.

What else?

Rabbi Hillel Norry, a visiting rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in Gulfport, Mississippi, told CNN that he believes it's only right for clergy to be armed in order to keep their parishioners safe — and even points to the Bible for reinforcement.

"If we're the shepherds, the first job of the shepherd is to protect the flock from the wolf," Norry said. "Why does a shepherd carry a stick? So he can whack the wolf."

Norry echoed the president's sentiments on armed guards in the Pittsburgh synagogue.

"If there had been four or five armed people in that synagogue, I don't know what would have happened," he said. "I tell you what, it would have changed the dynamic."

One last thing…
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