This is an opinion piece and does not necessarily reflect the views of Defender Outdoors or its employees.
The talking heads of the mainstream media and the left-leaning politicians are often try to blame mass shootings on America’s gun “problem”, lax gun laws, and “right-wing gun nuts”. Yet, evidences show time and time again that the mass shootings in the country are committed by disturbed individuals who lean left. Thursday’s shooting in Alexandria, Virginia was no different. Is this the new far-left?
Republican Congressmen Shot at Baseball Practice
Wednesday morning, a group of Republican congressmen were practicing for the annual Congressional Baseball Game for charity. During the practice, a man asked by standers if the politicians player were Republicans or Democrats. Upon learning the players were Republicans, he began to open fire on the group. House Majority whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) was shot in the pelvis. A former staffer and current lobbyist for Tyson Foods, Matt Mika, was shot in the chest. Zachary Barth, a member of Roger Williams (R-TX) staff was also shot. Williams and another were treated for secondary injuries not caused by the gun fire. Two officers of the Capitol Police were also shot, one was airlifted following the shooting and the other was was responsible for bringing down the shooter.
Though accounts vary, dozens to hundreds of shots were fired between the Capitol Police officers and the shooter. The shooter began the assault with from behind one of the dugouts using an SKS chambered in 7.62x39mm. At some point he switched to a Smith & Wesson 9mm handgun. Scalise was the first one hit by the gun fire, and collapsed near second base. Scalise laid motionless for the duration of the attack. The shooting lasted between five and ten minutes before the police were able to drop the attacker. Most of the congressmen at the baseball practice took cover in the dugout behind first base. After the police were able to put down the shooter, fellow congressmen rushed to the aid of Scalise who was bleeding profusely in the outfield. Luckily, one of the Congressman that rushed to his aid was Rep. Brad Wenstrop (R-OH), a doctor and Iraq War veteran. Wenstrop stabilized Scalise by putting pressure on the wound until help arrived. According to an aide, Wenstrop later described the ordeal as “being in Iraq again, only without his weapon.”
Alexandria Shooter Was Politically Radicalized
The shooter was identified as 66 year old James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois. Hodgkinson died from the injuries sustained during his assault on the baseball field. He had evidently driven from Illinois to Virginia two months ago. During these two months he lived out of his vehicle, a white cargo van, frequenting the local YMCA and a neighborhood BBQ restaurant. Waitresses and bartenders described him as “creepy”. .
Back in Illinois, Hodgkinson owned a home inspection company and a history minor run-ins with the law. According to those who knew him, he was very politically active, boisterous, but not necessarily violent. His criminal record dated back for 30 years ranging from operating without a contractor’s license to a domestic batter and aggravated discharge of a firearm—both of which were dropped. Most recently, police were called to his home after a neighbor reported hearing 50 shots being fired in a lightly populated area of Belleville. The responding police checked that his Illinois Firearm Owners Identification card was valid and advised him to not fire his weapon in the populated area.
Online, Hodgkinson posted many anti-conservative, anti-Trump views to social media, even one time saying, “It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.” He was very politically outspoken and had written multiple letters to the local newspaper railing against Republicans, wealthy people, and tax policies. He was also known to be part of the “99% Team” that attempted to bring attention to income inequality in Belleville. During the 2016 election, Hodgkinson was an avid supporter of Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and volunteered on Sanders’ campaign efforts in Illinois and Missouri. Hodgkinson also featured a picture of Sanders as his Facebook cover photo.
The Left Reacts to Shooting
Though most politicians on both sides of the aisle were supportive of the Congressmen and others attacked with the Democrat congressmen practicing baseball at a different field taking a moment to pray for their colleagues, it didn’t take long for the calls for more gun control to start. Democrat congressmen practicing baseball at a different field took a moment to pray for their colleagues when they learned the news. In an interview with NPR, Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) mentioned he had received a call from Mark Kelly—husband of Gabby Giffords and gun control activist—as soon as the news broke about shooting. Giffords herself was supportive following the shooting, waiting until Thursday to publish and promote another call for gun control. Virginia’s Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe made a speech calling for more gun control following the Alexandria shooting:
I have long advocated—this is not what today is about—but there are too many guns on the streets. I have long talked about this: background checks and shutting down gun show loopholes. And that’s not for today’s discussion, but it’s not just about politicians. We worry about this every day for all of our citizens.
The Governor then took to Twitter to continue advocating more gun control laws. Mark Levine, a local journalist a politician quipped, “Bomb the terrorists in Syria, arm the terrorists in Virginia—that’s [the Republican’s] policy”. Meanwhile, notable left-wing commentators on Twitter made light of the shooting, some even calling for more violence against Republicans.
The Republicans, conversely, had a different take. Chris Collins (R-NY) had this to say:
I can only hope that the Democrats do tone down the rhetoric. The rhetoric has been outrageous – the finger-pointing, just the tone and the angst and the anger directed at Donald Trump, his supporters. Really, then, you know, some people react to things like that. They get angry as well. And then you fuel the fires…. Its gone to far. Let’s hope we can disagree on a more polite conversational basis.
Collins also stated that he’ll be carrying his handgun on him at all times. Sen. Rand Paul, who was also involved in the attack, supported the Capitol Police that saved them. Paul mentioned that they only had bats to protect themselves and it would have been a “massacre” had the police not been there. “Everybody probably would have died except for the fact that the Capitol Hill police were there and the only reason they were there was because we had a member of (House) leadership on our team,” Paul said. The Capitol Police were only at the practice because Steve Scalise is House leadership and has a protection detail. Everyone else at the practice does not have a security detail.
Other politicians and commentators spent the afternoon trading blame for the attack. Liberals saying the lax gun laws were responsible (both firearms used in the attack were legally purchased in a state with very strict gun control laws), while conservatives pointed out the hateful rhetoric, Kathy Griffin’s images suggesting the beheading of the President, and the Trump-inspired Shakespeare in the Park performance of Julius Caesar have contributed to increasing violence against conservatives.
Is the the new far-left? If they lose politically, will they only resort to violence in riots, marches, and now mass shootings? What’s next? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.
The thoughts and prayers of all of us here at Defender Outdoors go out to the victims of the shooting, especially Capitol Police officers David Bailey and Crystal Griner. Both were injured in the line of duty protecting the Congressman, their aides, and the children present. Thanks to the bravery of the law enforcement officers, the gunmen was neutralized before anyone died.