A year af­ter shoot­ing, law­mak­ers hold firm

The Oklahoman - - NEWS - BY MATTHEW DALY AND LAU­RIE KELL­MAN The As­so­ci­ated Press

WASH­ING­TON — In the year since House Ma­jor­ity Whip Steve Scalise and oth­ers were shot at a con­gres­sional base­ball prac­tice, mass shoot­ings have oc­curred at a Texas church, a Las Ve­gas mu­sic fes­ti­val and high schools in Park­land, Florida, and Santa Fe, Texas.

Ohio Rep. Brad Wen­strup, a doc­tor who helped save Scalise’s life last June, has watched those at­tacks un­fold with the acute sen­si­tiv­ity of a mass shoot­ing sur­vivor. Each shoot­ing is jar­ring, says Wen­strup — call­ing the Park­land shoot­ing in par­tic­u­lar sick­en­ing — but his views on gun con­trol have not changed.

“If not for a gun — two guns re­ally — be­ing used on our side” by two Capi­tol Po­lice of­fi­cers at the GOP prac­tice, “you might have seen 20 dead peo­ple,” Wen­strup says. “That tells you where I’m com­ing from.”

That sen­ti­ment is wide­spread among Repub­li­cans, who say the at­tack has only strength­ened their com­mit­ment to pro­tect­ing gun rights.

Scalise, of Louisiana, suf­fered life-threat­en­ing in­juries in the June 2017 shoot­ing but re­turned to work last fall. He said the shoot­ing “deep­ened my ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the Sec­ond Amend­ment be­cause it was peo­ple with guns who saved my life and every other mem­ber out there.”

If Capi­tol Po­lice of­fi­cers David Bai­ley and Crys­tal Griner had not been there with guns to counter the shooter, “then there would have been no­body to take him down and he would have just been able to come and pick us apart,” Scalise said in a brief in­ter­view this week.

As he and other law­mak­ers pre­pare for the an­nual con­gres­sional base­ball game at Na­tion­als Park on Thurs­day night — the an­niver­sary of the shoot­ing — Scalise said he’s com­fort­able with the ac­tions Congress has taken on gun safety, in­clud­ing mea­sures to strengthen the fed­eral back­ground check sys­tem for gun pur­chases and im­prove school safety.

Scalise said he sees no need to go fur­ther.

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