Staff Editorial: Country must address lax gun laws, anti-Semitism after synagogue shooting

In light of the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday Oct. 27, many United States citizens have attempted to place blame. The majority are pointing fingers at the current lack of gun control or the resurgence of serious anti-Semitism in the United States.

This tragedy, however, can be attributed to both laws that allow people to easily acquire weapons that kill many people and hatred against Jewish people. In the aftermath, Americans must recognize both causes. 

Some powerful policy-makers, including President Donald Trump, have recognized the anti-Semitic nature of this attack, but have refused to acknowledge the role of firearms. Trump declared that American gun laws had “little to do” with the mass shooting, according to The New York Times

It is this kind of limited thinking that prevents tangible reform from coming to fruition. No other country has experienced such a spate of mass shootings as the United States has over the past decade. Although the shooter’s rationale has the added horror of anti-Semitic hatred, he was able to do so much damage by using a weapon solely suited to killing the most people possible. 

On the other hand, some other politicians, like New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, have exclusively focused on gun control and fail to emphasize the role of anti-Semitism. 

Two days after the shooting, Murphy began a push to make the state’s strict gun laws even stricter, according to 

Adding more firearm laws will not prevent all tragedies motivated by the hatred of non-majority groups. Speaking to the recent surge of anti-Semitism and recognizing its role may help.

Former president Barack Obama summed up the dual dynamics into preventing similar shootings. 

“All of us have to fight the rise of anti-Semitism and hateful rhetoric against those who look, love, or pray differently,” Obama said in a tweet on Saturday Oct. 27. “And we have to stop making it so easy for those who want to harm the innocent to get their hands on a gun.” 

Acknowledging every possible contributing factor to this tragedy can help prevent similar events in the future. Neither gun control nor anti-Semitism should minimize concerns of the other. Both are clearly to blame.