Witness video captures gunshots at Republican congressional baseball practice
National reaction to the shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-LA, by Belleville resident James Hodgkinson came swiftly, with some characterizing the violence as politically motivated.
“The hatred is raw, it is undiluted, it’s just savage,” Rush Limbaugh said on his radio program Wednesday, according to a transcript. “These are the mainstream of the Democrat base, and I don’t have any doubt that they are being radicalized.”
Michelle Malkin, a senior editor at the Conservative Review, was also quick to blame violence on people with left-leaning politics.
“I’ve warned for more than a decade about the unhinged left’s rhetoric and the despicable double standards that have given progressives immunity as they falsely blamed Republicans and conservatives for every last random outbreak of violence,” she wrote.
Newt Gingrich, the former Republican Speaker of the House, also told the Fox News Show “Outnumbered” that Hodgkinson’s actions were part of “an increasing intensity of hostility on the left.” On Twitter, he expressed his shock at the event.
Left-leaning columnist Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald, in a tweet, noted another shooting Wednesday in San Francisco. Pitts wrote that it was “just another day in the United States of Armament.”
Some tried to temper the political flames, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, which condemned the attack in a post online.
“The attack on members of Congress and their staffs today was a sickening and cowardly act of terror that must be condemned by everyone across the political spectrum,” Richard Cohen, the SPLC President wrote. “Any violent attack on our political leadership is an attack on our democracy.”
Chuck Todd, the NBC News political director and host of Meet the Press, highlighted the toxicity of social media comments.
“This shooting is an attack on all who serve and on all who participate in our democracy,” he wrote.
There have been 21 attacks on 24 members of Congress since 1789, according to congressional researchers. Seven of those attacks resulted in death.
One of the most recent victims, Gabby Giffords, the U.S. Representative from Arizona who was shot in the head in 2011, offered her condolences in a statement expressing sadness.
“This shooting is an attack on all who serve and on all who participate in our democracy,” she wrote on Twitter.
Left-leaning commentator David Axelrod tweeted that he was “saddened to read political responses among expressions of thoughts and prayers. Can we please hit pause on that for now?”
After the shooting, U.S. Representatives Mike Doyle, D-PA, and Joe Barton, R-TX, coaches of the baseball teams, agreed to come together in a dinner to “get to know each other better,” according to Jake Tapper of CNN.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, avoided political talk. He said in a tweet that “our hearts are with the victims of this tragic shooting.”
Dave Zirin, the sports editor at the Nation, took the commentary in another direction, dismayed that Republicans expressed sadness for the shooting after so many other shootings in America.
“This country has been crying over gun violence for years. Depressing as hell that it took this tragedy to extract them from their isolation.”
Shaun King, a senior justice writer with the New York Daily News, deflected criticism away from Sen. Bernie Sanders, saying on Twitter that “blaming Bernie for the congressional shooting, explicitly or implicitly, is absolutely preposterous.” Hodgkinson volunteered for Sanders’ presidential campaign.
Moms Demand Action, an anti-gun group, tweeted: “Americans should be able to attend baseball practice without the threat of being shot. We all deserve better.”