Americans are passionately divided about the political climate in the United States. The shooting in Virginia may be a precursor to more politically-motivated violence. On June 14, 2017, Republicans were practicing for the annual charity baseball game when a heavily-armed gunman attacked those present.
Many witnesses state the shooting lasted for, perhaps, 10 minutes and about 60 shots were fired. At least five people received treatment at local hospitals for bullet wounds sustained during the shooting. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, commended officers for their response, he further claimed there could have been at least 20, or more, killed — essentially, a massacre.
The shooting victims: Whip Steve Scalise, R-Louisianna; Zachary Barth, a staffer for Rep. Williams; Matt Mika, a lobbyist for Tyson Foods; two members of the U.S. District Police law enforcement officers, Krystal Griner and David Bailey. The shooter, James Hodgkinson, 66, was shot and subsequently died.
Numerous others were hurt when diving into the dugouts seeking shelter from the shooting. Rep. Joe Burton, R-Texas, had his sons at the practice, they were not injured. His ten-year-old crawled under a car.
The shooting occurred at the Eugene Simpson Stadium Park, in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria. The practice field is about seven miles from the Capitol building; across the Potomac River.
Jeff Duncan, R-South Carolina, indicated he was in the parking lot leaving the area when he was approached and asked who was practicing. The person asked if the team was the Republican or Democrat. Duncan further reported that he dismissed the question as casual but heard later of the shooting. He suggested that he believes the man was, in fact, the gunman.
Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, told CNN that he felt as though he was back in Iraq. He rushed to Scalise’s side and attended to him until the shooting was over and EMTs arrived. Wenstrup was a medic while serving in the Army, he is currently in the military reserves.
Shooting Should Not Surprise Anyone
While this shooting is appalling, it is not surprising and likely to be only the beginning of politically targeted violence. People are bombarded with negative verbiage about the situation in the United States.
On a daily basis news outlets, Twitter, and other social media sites unrelentingly broadcast the hatred. Congressman Rodney Davis, R-Illinois, told CNN that he believes this is likely the first of many attacks because of the rhetoric.
This shooting will, once again, add fuel to the flames of the hotly debated, and divisive, weapons debate in the United States. Extremists on either end of the argument use inflammatory language to encourage people to heed their position.
Some pro-gun zealots believe that shooting incidents, like the Sandy Hook, are conspiratorial events to forward the anti-weapon agenda. Others, who are less fanatical, contend that should the anti-gun pundits will take away all guns.
Shooters, like Hodgkinson, who use semi-automatic weapons cause moderate anti-gun proponents to suggest that the 2nd Amendment needs to be reevaluated. It is not necessary for anyone to own a weapon with a magazine that holds more than five rounds.
On the other hand, America is stronger because of gun ownership. During WWII, Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto is credited with saying:
You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind each blade of grass.
That reputation has not changed. Gun owners proudly boast that retaliation, of an attack against America, is something to be feared. In fact, men who were unable to serve in WWII formed coalitions to protect the country from the enemy on its beaches. San Diego resident, Paul Bean, a retired Marine Caption, recalled his brother’s group.
Can you imagine men walking up and down the beach, guns in hand, looking for enemy submarines?
In addition to the shooting today held an interesting coincidence, Congress was scheduled to vote on gun legislation, which according to Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, was tabled for a later date. Ironically, the shooting took place on the eve of the annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity, which is a bipartisan event.
Shootings and Hateful Rhetoric
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never break me.” This adage was believed to have been first published in The Christian Recorder in March 1862. Adults use this saying to teach children to turn the other cheek. Apparently, they have forgotten the power and influence of words.
People post foul language on social media without a filter, writing things they might not be brave enough to say in person. A person holding a gun is spouting his hatefulness, using bullets instead of words.
Lately, when the president refers to God and prayers, many people emphatically argue that a so-called non-Christian has no authority to invoke Christian values when he displays nothing to support his words.
Some report experiencing nauseous revulsion when they hear politicians recite the Pledge of Allegiance, especially the phrase, “with liberty and justice for all.” Their argument is, those in the political arena forget that is why they were elected.
Supposedly, the government serves at the pleasure of the people. After all, it is their mantra. Do they understand they speak a lie when making this claim? Perhaps not. An oft-quoted line from “V for Vendetta,” says that the government should fear the people, not the other way around.
The shooting today, in Virginia, and those that came before, which targeted political figures, were direct results of elected officials appearing to disregard Americans’ needs. It is likely that this shooting, is a precursor to more political violence.
It is time to take stock of what is triggering the excessive anger in all areas of the country; schools, playgrounds, online, in news, and commentaries. Everyone must make significant changes.
The rhetoric spilling from Congress’ mouth insists that changes must happen now. However, they need to take significant steps toward visible caring for others. They must remember, as Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote in 1839, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”
In that vein, citizens and politicians, alike, should use their energy to work for the betterment of society. The must refrain from spiteful and nasty verbal attacks. Certainly, no matter how angry, shooting others will solve nothing.
Opinion by Cathy Milne
CNN: Republican House Whip Steve Scalise, congressional staffer shot in Virginia shooting
NBC News: Congressional Staffer Zachary Barth Shot During GOP Baseball Game, Says He’s ‘Okay’
When government fears the people, there is liberty… (Spurious Quotation)
The Jefferson Monticello: When government fears the people, there is liberty….(Spurious Quotation) [Courtesy of Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia]
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