‘Capitol Hill already under state of siege, doesn’t need more security’ – fmr US Rep Jim Moran
A gunman on Wednesday opened fire on a group of Republican senators and representatives as they were wrapping up practice in Alexandria, Virginia for an annual congressional baseball charity game.
Four people were shot and injured, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana), while a Capitol Police officer and Representative Roger Williams (R-Texas) were also injured during the chaos. The gunman was killed by police on the scene.
RT: What was your first reaction when you heard about the Virginia shooting this morning?
Jim Moran: I used to live two blocks away. I used to run around that field every morning unless I had a late night the night before. So it struck at home. But I wouldn’t read too much into this. This [attacker] is a drifter. He was living in his car for the last six months. He had apparently come here from a rural part of Illinois to get involved in politics, to work for Bernie [Sanders], and for some reason he snapped. You could get some lesson that he should not have such easy access to high-powered firearms. Other than that he was not typical, certainly not of the neighborhood, it is a very peaceful residential neighborhood, and in fact the whole neighborhood is gathering tonight. My secretary is the leader of that neighborhood – she runs the farmers’ market and so on. They are leading this march down the main street to show unity among the neighbors. No one in that neighborhood ever would have thought of using firearm against somebody else. This is obviously very unfortunate, but I am not sure there are a lot of lessons we can learn from it.
RT: Do you think that Congress members will rethink security? Will Capitol Police rethink the security of elected officials interacting and moving about in society? Will anything change?
JM: I hope not, because we don’t need security people around us all the time. As it is, when you go on Capitol Hill – it is like it is under a state of siege. It has been since 9/11. We can’t afford to have security people, and we’re not that important, frankly, members of Congress, to have security details as far as I’m concerned. Steve Scalise was the third-ranking in the Republican Party. So he got a couple of security people. As it turned out it was a good thing, because as fast as the Alexandria police arrived, it took only five minutes. So those two Capitol police officers did fire back.
Our whole country as far as I am concerned – I know it is in a minority opinion – we’ve got too much security. Sometimes you have just to deal with things as they are and this guy was not typical of any part of our population. You’re always going to have some people who are maladjusted and act in bizarre ways.
RT: Do you think it will change the gun debate at all in Washington?
JM: Absolutely not. There was going to be a vote [yesterday], but they didn’t have a vote because of this. But there was going to be a vote, complements of Donald Trump Jr., who likes to go shoot big-game animals – the more endangered, the better, in Africa. He wanted a bill to be able to put silencers on assault weapons, basically weapons that you would shoot big game with. It was called something like ‘Protect the ears of Second Amendment users,’ or some kind of silly title… If you would have had a silencer [during the attack], I think you would have had more damage. I think that is a crazy thing to do, and yet Congress was prepared to pass it. They would have passed it today, but I suspect they are going to pass it at some point this week or next week despite the shooting.
Tighe Barry, CODEPINK activist
RT: Does it appear the current intense political discourse in the US contributed to the shooter's motives?
Tighe Barry: I don’t agree with [the idea] that someone should take a gun and go out and shoot. What I do agree with is the fact that we are a divided country, and I don’t see our president acting like a unifier. I think if an African-American youth is shot on the streets of Chicago by a policeman, and the youth is unarmed and there were no reasons for a gun to be shot at them, then the president should come out equally and say: ‘We need to unite. We need to unite behind stopping these guns…’ We need to end the gun violence in the United States. There’s no reason why this gentleman should have had a long gun with a high-capacity magazine anywhere near that baseball field. We need to get these guns out of our streets and out of our lives and we need to have peace in this country – that’s the way we unify.
RT: Going back to the violence in Berkeley a few months ago, there were no guns used there. It did seem to be the problems between left and right-wing supporters. So what happened today is simply an escalation or a culmination of the violence that has been seen since Trump election, isn’t it?
TB: I don’t agree with the violence that took place in Berkley, as I don’t agree with the violence that took place [yesterday] in Virginia. The fact of the matter [is that] nobody died in Berkley, because nobody had high-capacity magazines and long rifles. No one came to these protests with guns in their hands. I don’t agree with the violence that is taking place on the streets of the US in our universities. The fact of the matter is – there’s a lot of angst in our country. People are feeling afraid. And when people are afraid, they act out: The alt-right is acting out and these anti-fascist so-called protesters are also acting out. None of them are going to get us to a place where we need to go. We need calmness, we need coolness, and we need dialogue. But you’ll never get dialogue when there’s an ability to have guns on the streets.
‘Politically motivated act of violence’
Patrick Henningsen, executive editor, 21stcenturywire.com
RT: Do you think it’s possible to unite those who are clearly divided by their political views, or will the problem escalate even further?
Patrick Henningsen: First of all, to reduce this event and the commentary down to a gun issue is ludicrous and borders on idiotic. The fact of the matter is, just because this is a gun event, whether it was a knife or a gun, it is violence. But what the left will do is reduce it down to a Second Amendment issue, whatever. If that was a Muslim who carried this out, whether it was with a knife or a paper clip, or a gun, the right, Trump supporters, would be calling for a ban on Muslims. That’s a fact, as well. This is a politically motivated act of violence… The discourse in America has been allowed to reach such ludicrous proportions. The people who have lost the election in 2016 are acting like petulant children. The whole Democratic establishment has wasted hundreds of millions of dollars by indulging in conspiracy theories like ‘Russia hacked the election,’ or ‘Russia is meddling in American democracy…’
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.