Shooting in Washington
On Wednesday, June 14, a horrifying attack took place. At an early morning baseball practice, a man approached the field, confirmed it was the Congressional Republican baseball team practice, and started shooting at the players.
The players were preparing for the Congressional Baseball Game, a bipartisan tradition beginning in 1909, Republicans versus Democrats. This man targeted the Republican Congressmen and their staff, an attempt at political assassination.
The attack hit close to home for me.
The Majority Whip, Steve Scalise, was shot in the hip. Bullet fragments created extensive internal damage and bleeding, he was in critical condition for days. He still remains hospitalized in serious condition.
I have known Steve since I first came to Congress; we serve on the Energy and Commerce Committee together. This December, I seconded his nomination for Majority Whip.
An aide to Congressman Roger Williams was also wounded, and Roger somehow injured his foot in the process of getting in the dugout and helping those around him. I was Roger's assigned mentor when he got to Washington.
The team manager, Congressman Joe Barton, is also a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. He brought to practice his 11 year old son, who has played with my son when they are both in town.
Joe told me that the gunman was clearly herding them together for maximum effect. Two Capitol Police Officers, Crystal Griner and David Bailey, were also wounded in their heroic efforts to stop the attack. Without the U.S. Capitol Police, in the words of Rand Paul, â€śit would have been a massacre.â€ť
Also wounded was former aid, Matt Mika.
I was shocked to hear about the attack that Wednesday morning, as were my colleagues on both sides on the aisle.
The Democrat baseball team was practicing that morning as well, and when they heard about the attack, they stopped their practice and huddled together to pray.
On Thursday, a Democratic Congresswoman who I barely knew sat down next to me on the floor of the House. She was clearly shaken by the attack. Like me, she was sincerely concerned for our society, and we had a long conversation about if and how we could resolve the lack of civility currently dominating our country.
Later Thursday, as I sat in the stands at the game, I was moved to see members of both teams gather to pray for the victims. It was a powerful image of both parties sharing support and displaying their faith.
Most members of Congress Iâ€™ve dealt with are here because they want to do what they think is best for the country.
With the turbulent political atmosphere, itâ€™s hard for people across the country to believe that we are capable of working together in D.C., and that we can respect those with opposite opinions.
Congressman Cedric Richmond is an outspoken Democrat, who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus and rarely agrees on policy with Steve Scalise, but is one of Steveâ€™s close friends in Congress. He was one of the first people to get to the hospital to support Congressman Scalise, as a fellow legislator for Louisiana.
Like Speaker Ryan said, "An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.â€ť
Itâ€™s a reminder we are all Americans first, Democrats and Republicans second.
In the aftermath of this attack, it is clear that the heated rhetoric needs to be toned down.
We can strongly disagree. We can think the opposing side has got it all wrong.
But we must keep it civil. We must be able to have meaningful dialogue.
This is America. We are proud of our open society, freedom of speech, and a Republic based on democratic principles.
To keep our Republic requires us to have the ability to resolve our differences at the ballot box and when the election is over, to move forward with the minority, or losing side, being the loyal opposition and to agree to disagree in a civilized manner.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.