A New York City gun-toting rabbi is campaigning for Jewish congregants to arm themselves in the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, which saw an anti-Semitic gunman kill 11 people Saturday.
Rabbi Gary Moskowitz, a former cop and longstanding proponent for armed congregants, met on Sunday with members of his organization, the International Security Coalition of Clergy, to discuss how to publicize their campaign, The New York Post reported.
“You must have it,” Moskowitz said of the call to arm Jews in synagogues. “A guy comes in with a gun, and what can they do? Throw chairs at them? We’re sitting ducks here.”
It has been a fiercely debated topic over the years.
Jewish Action magazine pointed toward the Torah for direction, noting there are halachic issues arising from bringing a weapon into a synagogue.
Matthew Chase, an attorney and devout Jew, noted the conflict of interest.
“I certainly don’t want to find myself staging a gun battle in my sanctuary,” he wrote for The Daily Caller. “But would I prefer a massacre of my fellow congregants? Never again.”
Moskowitz said that “several people in every synagogue should have the right to carry a premise permit,” according to The Post.
He has gained the support of other rabbis, including Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis.
“I’m in favor,” he said. “I would like to see some protection. It could serve as a deterrent.”
Rabbi Dr. Tzemah Yoreh, leader of The City Congregation, admitted to The Post that he felt conflicted on the matter but understood the call to arm congregants.
“On the one hand, we want to celebrate openness and freedom of worship and have people come into sanctuaries and not be impeded,” Yoreh said. “On the other hand, people in my community are really scared.”
In Riverside, California, a nightclub shooting injured seven people who were shot at a Halloween party early Monday, police said.
The shooting was reported at a nightclub called Sevilla in the city of Riverside that had promoted a weekend of Halloween-themed events, including a Sunday night rap show billed as “The First Purge” or “The Purge Election Year.”
Two victims found by officers inside the nightclub were taken to a hospital for treatment. Five other victims later arrived at local hospitals with gunshot wounds, police said.
Police watch commander Sgt. Ryan Wilson said none of the victims’ wounds were life-threatening.
One witness who did not want to be identified told KTLA-TV that he was dancing when gunshots rang out.
He said he saw multiple people firing guns and that there was a bottleneck of people trying to get out of the exit as he hid behind the bar and prayed.
The initial police investigation shows that a fight broke out at the club and those involved began exchanging gunfire both inside and outside, said Officer Ryan Railsback, a department spokesman.
Investigators are looking into whether the shooting was gang-related, Railsback said.
The investigation was being handled by the department’s robbery-homicide and gang intelligence units.
Riverside is about 55 miles (88.5 kilometers) inland from Los Angeles.