A year after shooting, lawmakers hold firm
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.