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Pro-Gun House Majority Whip Steve Scalise Wounded in DC-Area Mass Shooting

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) speaks at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, DC. (Gage Skidmore)

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), a staunch gun rights advocate, a legislative aide and two Capitol Hill Police officers were reportedly wounded in a mass shooting at a Wednesday morning Republican Congressional baseball team practice in Virginia.

ABC News reports five people were wounded in the incident at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, across the Potomac River from Washington, DC. Alexandria police said five people were taken to hospital, including the suspected shooter, whose identity has not been released. According to congressional and law enforcement sources, the shooting was apparently a “deliberate attack.” The gunman was reportedly armed with a rifle.

A senior member of the Republican leadership told ABC News that Scalise “was hit in the hip and should be OK.”

Lawmakers described a routine morning practice for a charity baseball game at a field they’ve used for years. “I was on deck about to hit batting practice on the third base side and I hear, ‘bam,'” Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) told CNN. “And I look around and behind third base… I see a rifle. and I see a little bit of a body.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told CNN that without the police presence, “it would have been a massacre.”

“Nobody would have survived without the Capitol Hill police,” Paul said. “We had nothing but baseball bats to fight back against a rifle with,” added Brooks. Flake said many shots were fired. “Fifty (shots) would be an understatement, I’m quite sure,” he told CNN.

Witnesses said Scalise dragged himself about 45 feet (14 meters) from second base, where he had been playing, and was lying on the ground until the gunman was neutralized. When it was safe, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), a physician, rushed to Scalise’s aid.

President Donald Trump issued a statement and tweeted about the shooting. “The Vice President and I are aware of the shooting incident in Virginia and are monitoring developments closely,” Trump said in a statement. “We are deeply saddened by this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the members of Congress, their staffs, Capitol Police, first responders, and all others affected.” The president subsequently tweeted that “Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, a true friend and patriot, was badly injured but will fully recover. Our thoughts and prayers are with him.”

Scalise is the first member of Congress to be shot since Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) was shot in the head during a constituent meeting event in Tucson, Arizona in January 2011. Eighteen other people were shot in the attack; six of them died.

The third-ranking member of the House of Representatives, Scalise has been one of the strongest Second Amendment advocates in Congress, earning an A+ grade from the National Rifle Association (NRA), the nation’s leading firearms lobby. Scalise, who has represented Louisiana’s First Congressional District since 2008, has introduced highly controversial legislation that would make it easier for licensed gun dealers to sell guns to out-of-state buyers. He also served on Trump’s Second Amendment Coalition. According to his congressional website,

Scalise has sponsored and cosponsored legislation protecting citizens’ right to keep and bear arms. In the 112th Congress, Scalise introduced H.R. 58, the Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act, which improves law-abiding citizens’ ability to purchase firearms. The bills Scalise has recently cosponsored include H.R.645, a bill to restore Second Amendment rights in the District of Columbia and the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, H.R.822, which would ensure national reciprocity for concealed carry permit holders. Congressman Scalise’s pro-gun stance has earned him an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association. A member of the Congressional Second Amendment Task Force, Congressman Steve Scalise will continue fighting to protect every citizen’s Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

In December 2014, Scalise gained some national notoriety when it was revealed he addressed a gathering of a white supremacist group founded by former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke in 2002, but he denied any knowledge of the group’s neo-Nazi activities.

Scalise is married with two children.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been more than 27,000 shootings so far this year in the United States, resulting in at least 6,865 deaths. There have been more than 150 mass shootings in 2017.

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