Mirage of unity

Scalise shooting won’t end gridlock, especially on guns

When Rep. Steve Scalise was shot and critically wounded while practicing for a congressional baseball game last Wednesday (June 14), colleagues from across the aisle came together in an uncommon display of solidarity. Democrats joined his fellow Republicans in expressing shock and outrage. The game, played last Thursday to benefit D.C. charities, sold a record number of tickets, raised a record $1.5 million and ended with the winning Dems handing the trophy to the GOP to sit in Scalise’s office.

It was a good response, a nice response—a sign, a symbol. Unfortunately, what it signified is Capitol Hill myopia. That whisper of unity, in a windstorm of wailing antagonism, presents little hope for optimism. The incident should have been a wake-up call but won’t be; then again, Congress shouldn’t need one when it comes to gun violence.

The mass shooting in Virginia, which injured Scalise and four others, was the 154th in the U.S. this year; it occurred the same day as another, at a UPS facility in San Francisco. As of Tuesday (June 20), the tally had reached 164. The Gun Violence Archive, the source for the figures, listed the total number of gun incidents at 28,791—accounting for 7,153 deaths and 14,064 injuries.

Members of Congress have every reason to feel aggrieved when a gunman hits one of their own. President Trump condemned the act as a “very, very brutal assault,” which it was. Shootings 1-153 and 155-164 also warrant their attention.

The National Rifle Association has a stranglehold on gun legislation in America. Can a bill come up for discussion—let alone pass—without the NRA’s sanction? Not even when members of Congress are victims. Just ask former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was shot at a town hall in 2011.

Most Americans support gun reform. Most in Congress ignore the issue. There are too many tragedies to turn a blind eye.