High-ranking political supporters of the firearms lobby are injured in a shooting near Washington. The perpetrator was killed.
Good guns, bad guns? Scene after the attack at the baseball field Photo: ap
The 154th mass shooting this year in the U.S. did not hit schoolchildren or moviegoers, but high-ranking political supporters of the firearms lobby at baseball practice. In the attack Wednesday morning at a sports field in Alexandria, 10 kilometers as the crow flies from the U.S. Capitol, House Republican caucus leader Steve Scalise was critically wounded with a hip shot. A congressional staffer, a lobbyist and a policewoman were also injured.
The perpetrator, a 66-year-old white Illinois man who had railed against Donald Trump and the Republican Party on Facebook and who had supported Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail, died in the shootout with police. A photo shows him holding a banner that read, "Tax the rich."
Immediately after the shooting, the House of Representatives canceled a hearing that same day with a representative of the National Rifle Association (NRA) firearms lobby. It would have been the first hearing of the Trump era, which was supposed to initiate the facilitation of the firearms trade in the U.S. promised during the election campaign. In this specific case, it is about a law for the easier sale of silencers for firearms.
But already in the afternoon, Republicans assured that they will not change their positions on firearms. Mo Brooks, a congressman who was also present at the baseball practice and crouched on the ground to protect himself from the attacker, said, "We need the Second Amendment to make our republic safe."
Virginia Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe was one of the few politicians to utter the obvious phrase, "There are too many guns on our streets," at a press conference. For this, he was criticized in numerous quarters for allegedly cannibalizing a disaster. Sanders issued a brief statement on the Senate floor strongly condemning the attack.
Scalise is a Trump supporter from the start
Donald and Melania Trump brought flowers to the hospital that evening to both the injured Congressman Scalise and his wife, as well as to injured police officer Crystal Griner and her wife. In a statement to Scalise, Trump found unusually empathetic words. "You have America and the whole world behind you," he assured the congressman.
Scalise belongs to the radical right wing of the Republican Party and is a Trump supporter from the very beginning. During the campaign, the 51-year-old congressman from Louisiana walked around wearing a red "Make America great again" visor cap. After Trump’s election, he supported the new president’s projects. Among other things, he wants to further restrict the right to abortion and withdraw government support from family planning centers. He is also a supporter of the "Muslim ban." Scalise spoke years ago at a rally organized by right-wing radical David Duke. The NRA arms lobby recommends him to voters with its top A+ grade.
The baseball practice in Alexandria was the final preparation for a Republican vs. Democratic congressmen benefit game scheduled for Thursday at Nationals Park baseball stadium in Washington. Politicians from both parties decided immediately after the shooting that they would stick with the charity game. "We’re going to pray first and then play baseball," said Republican Congressman Roger Williams, "after all, this is America – the greatest country in the world."
On Wednesday night, Republican and Democratic congressmen, usually at spitting odds, went on joint television interviews, showing their friendship and asserting that an attack on one of them is an attack on all.
With so much bipartisan solidarity, gun violence was largely lost. The U.S. has more firearms than residents. This year, gun violence has already resulted in 27,893 incidents with 6,895 deaths, as recorded by the independent group Gun Violence Archive.