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Showdown: Hizzoner butts head with beep over his call for armed off-duty cops in houses of worship

Safety for worshippers: Borough President Adams was joined by Councilman Chaim Deutsch at a press conference on Oct. 28 in Midwood to denounce the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, which left 11 congregants dead. Adams encouraged off-duty and retired police officers to carry their weapons when going to their houses of worship.
Eugene Resnick

Mayor DeBlasio shot down Borough President Adams’s call for off-duty and retired police officers to bring their weapons to their houses of worship.

A DeBlasio spokeswoman told this paper that Hizzoner does not believe that having more firearms in places of worship will solve the problem, and that he trusts the city’s police department to keep congregants safe.

“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,” Olivia Lapeyrolerie said in a statement.

Borough President Adams called on off-duty and retired police officers to bring their weapons to their places of worship at a press conference in Midwood on Oct. 28, in response to a mass shooting that killed 11 worshippers and wounded several more at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27.

“I used to carry my gun all the time when I went to church,” said Adams, an ex-cop, adding that the rising threat against places of worship demanded a realistic response.

“We have to live in this real universe that we are in,” he said. “If we have officers that are trained on how to respond to emergencies, how to move people to safety, how to properly use a firearm, if they are leaving their firearms at home, I am now saying to them, ‘stop leaving your firearms at home,’ ” Adams said.

The Pittsburgh shooting came less than a week after a man fatally shot two black people in a Kroger grocery store in Kentucky on Oct. 24 after trying unsuccessfully to get into a nearby predominantly black church. And days after the gunman shot up the synagogue, a vandal tagged several Brooklyn Heights homes with swastikas, and wrote a racial slur on another residence’s stoop.

Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Midwood), the son of Holocaust survivors, joined Adams to denounce the attacks and went further the next day by advocating for armed guards at houses of worship.

“When I walked into City Hall this morning, I passed armed security officers,” Deutsch tweeted on Oct. 29. “Our high profile institutions and houses of worship should be protected the same way.”

The councilman asked the Council’s legislative division to examine whether the city could reduce the cost of having paid police department details at houses of worship on Oct. 29, according to spokeswoman Tova Chatzinoff-Rosenfeld.

On the day of the Pittsburgh shooting, Trump suggested reporters that an armed guard could have stopped the killer, while rejecting the idea that gun control could curb such attacks.

“This has little to do with [gun laws],” he told CNN. “This is a case where if they had an armed guard inside, they might have been able to stop him immediately.”

When asked by a reporter whether all churches and synagogues should have armed guards, Trump said it was “certainly an option.”

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.

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