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Increased security at SF synagogues, local leaders call for gun control after Pittsburgh shooting

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(Rachael Garner/2016 Special to S.F. Examiner)

San Francisco police have “stepped up” their presence at San Francisco’s various synagogues after a shooter opened fire on members of the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, Pa. early Saturday morning.  

The attack took place during a Saturday morning service and left at least 10 people dead and six people injured — among them police officers — according to reports by the Associated Press. The gunman, 46-year-old Robert Bowers, reportedly has a history of making online threats against Jews and is currently in custody.

Police officials in San Francisco are taking precautionary measures but said that there are no known threats at this time.

The attack left local Jewish groups and leaders united in calling for stricter national gun control laws.

The Jewish Community Relations Council, representing more than 80 synagogues and other organizations locally, posted guidelines on gun control and gun violence on Twitter approved by the organization in 1999.

Among the recommendations is requiring applicants for gun permits to “take comprehensive safety training classes.”

“Our community values B’Tselem Elohim — the belief that all people are created in God’s image and each life is of infinite value — and this guided our community to create a consensus on effective methods for reducing firearms violence,” the organization said on Twitter.

The San Francisco chapter of the Anti Defamation League, an international nonprofit that fights anti-semitism and bigotry, also took to Twitter to state that the organization is “devastated by the reported murder of at least eight congregants.”

The organization tweeted that Bowers allegedly shouted “all Jews must die” before opening fire.

“White supremacists are emboldened under this Presidential administration — we must vote anyone out of office that supports or excuses them,” said Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who is Jewish. “And we must stop the proliferation of guns in this country. We owe it to the people who were killed this morning.”

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who is also Jewish, called the shooting “troubling” at a time of “rising public expression of anti-semitism.”

“I also think there is an epidemic of gun violence and no community  is spared. We need to take our government back from National Rifle Association and the haters,” Mandelman said.

State Sen. Scott Wiener agreed that anti-semitism “is alive and well” in a statement on Saturday.

“The current political environment only empowers people to act on their worst, most hateful impulses,” said Wiener. “The right-wing domestic terrorism we are experiencing – fueled by unlimited access to assault weapons and by our President’s disgusting rhetoric and the thugs he inspires – must end. We need to cleanse the body politic.”

lwaxmann@sfexaminer.com

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