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Domestic Terrorist Shoots GOP House Rep. Steve Scalise

Domestic Terrorist Shoots GOP House Rep. Steve Scalise

Belleville, Illinois resident James T. Hodgkinson, is a 66-year-old domestic terrorist who shot Congressman Steve Scalise at a park in Alexandria, Virginia. At the time of the shooting, Congressional Republicans were holding baseball practice in preparation for the annual charity Congressional Baseball Game to take place on Thursday.

The Congressional Baseball Game has been played since the early twentieth century (with few interruptions) and generally raises approximately $500,000 per year. According to witnesses, Hodgkinson approached bystanders and inquired whether the team practicing was made up of Democrats or Republicans. Hodgkinson is a noted Democratic supporting ideologue, who once volunteered for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign. Allegedly, once Hodgkinson was aware the team was comprised of Republicans, he commenced hunting Republican lawmakers with his rifle. With Rep. Scalise being the third ranked Republican in Congress, he was accompanied by a special security detail. Eyewitnesses report that these professionally trained security officials prevented a massacre, as no other member of Congress had a security detail with them at the baseball field.

James Hodgkinson 1992 St. Claire mugshot
Credit: St. Clair County Sheriff

In addition to Rep. Scalise, a Capitol Police officer, Congressional staffer, and a lobbyist, were also shot by Hodgkinson. The F.B.I. describes domestic terror as follows: "Homegrown violent extremists who may aspire to attack the United States from within."

Since this attack involved an individual with a clear political agenda whose actions were directly motivated by that agenda, it is only fitting to describe Hodgkinson as a terrorist. Despite corporate media's reluctance to apply equitable scrutiny to white perpetrators of terror, Hodgkinson's attack can only reasonably be categorized as terror. 

The MedStar Washington Hospital (that Scalise was rushed to) provided a thorough explanation of Scalise's injuries and an update on his overall health: 

"Congressman Steve Scalise sustained a single rifle shot to the left hip. The bullet traveled across his pelvis, fracturing bones, injuring internal organs and causing severe bleeding. He was transported in shock, to MedStar Washington Hospital Center. He underwent immediate surgery and an additional procedure to stop bleeding. He has received multiple units of blood transfusion. His condition is critical and he will require additional operations."

The under discussed elephant in the room, is the fact that a domestic abuser owned a firearm and used it during the transmission of a heinous act. A 2017 study conducted by Everytown For Gun Safety, indicates that, "people with a history of domestic abuse are five times more likely to commit murder."  Federal legislation prohibiting the ownership of firearms after a domestic abuse conviction are significantly flawed for the following reasons:

Pictured: 2006 mugshot of James Hodgkinson after being arrested for domestic abuse
Credit: AP/St. Clair County Sheriff

1) No mechanism exists to require the forfeiture or surrender of firearms already owned. Thus, any domestic abuser who amassed an arsenal prior to conviction is safe to harm people with those previously weapons because judges are unwilling to enforce the law. Absent a strict legal surrender mechanism, the law is ineffective. 
2) A “Boyfriend Loophole” is used to skirt the law, because it allows convicted domestic abusers who aren’t married to their targets to still purchase guns, if those individuals are otherwise eligible to purchase. 
3) Federal restrictions are avoided by individuals who adhere to laws permitting the purchasing of guns from private sellers. 

Claiming that it is wrong to "politicize" this tragedy or that it is "too soon" to discuss common sense gun safety measures, is nonsensical considering the frequency and abundance of gun violence in the U.S. If we adopt a standard that requires waiting till survivors and the families of victims have grieved, then no opportunity will ever arise. There is no 'right time' to discuss the U.S. epidemic of gun violence because guns are everywhere and gun violence is everyday.

Gun violence is a commonplace reality of our existence in the United States. But, due to extreme lobbying by the National Rifle Association and the cowardice of lawmakers not willing to stand up to the influence of the gun lobby, no change is imminent. Common sense gun safety measures like getting guns out of the hands of violent criminals is reasonable, but continually made to wait for the next tragedy to be discussed.  

Anyone considering violence as a means of facilitating political change must reconsider their tactics. Their violence will not be viewed favorably by other constituents. Most likely, this sort of violence will have the reverse effect as folks are driven to support the opposition in order to disassociate with a terrorist. 

Final note: James Hodgkinson was a full-fledged menace to society who was killed in a gun battle with Capitol Police following his attack on Rep. Scalise. The moment his menacing delinquency morphed into violent uprising to undermine a political party, he became Homegrown Domestic Terrorist James Hodgkinson. Most importantly, Hodgkinson's mile long "rap" sheet did not prevent him from possessing a firearm.

Words matter. Putting Hodgkinson's actions in their proper context and correctly identifying them as terroristic will aid in the elimination of this evil. Also, we have a responsibility to demonstrate that terrorists come in all shapes, sizes, color, and faith. It is irresponsible to constantly refer to foreign born or brown skinned extremists as terrorists but never homegrown white perpetrators of the same acts.  Regardless of the religious bigotry stemming from the White House, there is no ethnic prerequisite to being labeled a terrorist. 

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