Scalise shooting: A renewed gun-control debate
In a nation filled with firearms, “no one is immune” from this country’s culture of gun violence, said Amanda Marcotte in Salon.com. Yet even as Republican lawmakers became the target of senseless carnage at a congressional softball practice in Virginia last week, they refused to make it less easy for “a madman with a vendetta to get the weaponry he needs” to wreak havoc. Deceased sniper James Hodgkinson, 66, wounded Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and four others using a legally obtained semi-automatic rifle and handgun, in a rampage apparently motivated by his hatred for President Trump and Republicans. The incident was this year’s 154th mass shooting, as defined by attacks in which four people are shot. And yet to many Republicans, the only solution to this bloodshed “is yet more guns,” said The New York Times in an editorial. Some even proposed arming members of Congress. In this dark, NRA-inspired vision, everyone needs to go to work, school, and even softball practice “with a gun on their hip.”
Gun control wouldn’t stop a deranged man like Hodgkinson, said John Lott in FoxNews.com. He violated Virginia law by carrying a rifle equipped with a magazine holding more than 20 rounds— but did he care? Gun-control laws only affect law-abiding citizens, not madmen and criminals. As we saw on that ball field, “the longer it takes for a good guy with a gun to arrive on the scene, the greater the carnage.” Had two armed Capitol Police officers not been present, said Daniel Lee in The Wall Street Journal, two dozen congressmen and senators on the field and their aides would have been “easy pickings” for Hodgkinson. Sen. Rand Paul, who was there, said, “It would have been a massacre.”
Clearly, Republicans and Democrats aren’t going to agree on guns anytime soon, said Jeet Heer in NewRepublic.com. But can’t we agree that “troubled people” with violent histories shouldn’t be able to buy guns? Many of America’s mass shooters share a history of domestic violence, including the Pulse nightclub shooter. In 2006, Hodgkinson was arrested for domestic battery after “throwing” his foster daughter “around the bedroom” and firing a shotgun at her friend. Yet he was free to buy a semiautomatic rifle. If we can’t agree to restrict people with histories of domestic violence and mental illness from buying guns, then we can’t agree on anything—and the carnage will continue.