House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was shot by a lone gunman who opened fired on congressional baseball practice in June. Scalise barely survived — his injuries were so damaging, he had to relearn how to walk. Given Scalise’s personal experience with gun violence, it seems logical that he would now support sensible gun legislation.
Logical, yes, until the Republican party’s confounding love affair with the NRA is recalled. In one of his first TV appearance since returning to the House, Scalise didn’t sway from his dedication to protecting the Second Amendment. When asked by Fox News’ Martha MacCallum if his experience altered his position on gun control, Scalise firmly rejected renewed pleas for tighter legislation following the tragedy in Las Vegas.
“I think [my experience] has fortified it,” Scalise said, referring to the Second Amendment. “When there’s a tragedy like this, the first thing we should be thinking about is praying for the people that were injured.”
Continuing, Scalise delivered a familiar Republican anti-gun control argument heard most often after mass shootings like Las Vegas. “We shouldn’t first be thinking of promoting our political agenda,” said Scalise. “I think we see too much of that where people say ‘now we need to have gun control.’ Well, look at some of those bills. Those bills wouldn’t have done anything to stop this.”
Scalise might be right about the nearly unavoidable nature of the Las Vegas massacre. Stephen Paddock, the gunman, didn’t have a criminal record and he passed background checks to purchase weapons he used in the shooting.
But James Hodgkinson, the man who shot him, did have an extensive criminal record — one that included charges for domestic battery. That charge was dropped, allowing him to legally buy a gun under current law. Republican lawmakers could change this, but they consistently vote otherwise at the behest of the NRA.