Republicans Keep Missing the Point About Gun Violence—Even When They’re the Targets

June 16, 2017

Police investigate the playground in Alexandria, Va., near where House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was shot Wednesday during a congressional team’s baseball practice. (Jacquelyn Martin / AP)

Gun rights activists for years have fought for the free proliferation of firearms throughout the U.S., perhaps subconsciously imagining they were only arming themselves. But a shooting incident in Virginia on Wednesday, in which a 66-year-old white man named James T. Hodgkinson fired a rifle multiple times on a baseball field and seriously injured House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and others, illustrated this point: Liberals, who traditionally support gun control, also may use gun violence when they feel helpless.

Hodgkinson, apparently a strong critic of President Donald Trump, reportedly inquired before shooting whether “the team practicing was a Democrat or a Republican team,” and he was informed that it was made up of Republicans. National Rifle Association proponents including Scalise—who has an A+ rating from the gun-rights group—may do well to acknowledge that living in a society flooded with guns is dangerous for them as well as for the rest of us.

Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., one of Trump’s most ardent backers in Congress, wasted no time blaming Democrats for the shooting, saying, “I can only hope that the Democrats do tone down the rhetoric. … The rhetoric has been outrageous: The finger-pointing, the tone, the angst and the anger directed at Donald Trump, his supporters, really then, some people react to things like that, people get angry as well, and you fuel the fires.”