The oft-cited Republican talking point following a mass shooting is usually the same, despite being riddled with flaws: It's fine that people are gunning others down — at rates that no other country comes close to touching — but I better have a gun on me when it happens.
On Wednesday after the tragic shooting at a GOP Congressional baseball practice Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., blamed the "tone" of his Democratic colleagues for the attack -- before calling on his fellow Republican lawmakers to arm themselves.
"I can only hope that the Democrats do tone down the rhetoric," Collins said on WBEN, a Buffalo radio station. "The rhetoric has been outrageous – the finger-pointing, just the tone and the angst and the anger directed at Donald Trump, his supporters. Really, then, you know, some people react to things like that. They get angry as well. And then you fuel the fires," he added.
Collins then pledged to carry his gun with him from now on. "On a rare occasion I'd have my gun in the glove box or something, but it's going to be in my pocket from this day forward," he said.
Collins' GOP colleague, Georgia Rep. Barry Loudermilk complained that if the attack “had happened in Georgia, [the shooter] wouldn’t have gotten too far.” Loudermilk told CNN that he had a staffer with him who “back in Georgia carries a 9 mm in his car,” adding “he had a clear shot at him, but here we’re not allowed to carry any weapons."
Loudermilk took aim at Washington DC’s strict gun laws -- even though the shooting occurred in Virginia, where gun regulations are lax.
"Most of us are here in D.C., so how are you supposed to have it here?" he asked. "This is exactly why there's a lot of fear of doing town halls at this point."
Alabama Republican Rep. Mo Brooks, who applied first aid to Scalise after he was shot, was also quick to take up for lax gun restrictions on Wednesday. Though his response was generally well measured, he still believes the common sentiment on the Left is to abolish all gun rights.
But having a serious conversation about guns doesn't mean that people are attempting to repeal the Second Amendment, it just means that a sensible regulation of firearms should be enacted with the intent being to increase public safety.
Of course, the common right-wing ideology is that more guns in the hands of more people will not only act as a deterrent to prevent mass shootings but that it will also be easier for citizens to quickly act on — and stop a shooting — when one occurs. But does that not liken the potential for a "wild wild west" saloon-style shootout?
Wednesday's assailant, James T. Hodgkinson, had a valid firearm license, according to NBC's Tom Winter.
But he also had a criminal history, including being charged with domestic battery in an incident with a woman.
In fact, one could argue that Hodgkinson's criminal history should have prevented him from legally owning and possessing firearm. NBC reported:
Hodgkinson, a licensed home inspector who ran his business out of his Illinois home, has a history of arrests and was charged in 2006 with assaulting a woman, according to public records. At the time, police recovered a pocket knife, hair they say was pulled out of the woman's head, and a 12-gauge shotgun at the scene of the alleged attack. The charges, domestic battery, aggravated discharge of a firearm, and battery, were later dismissed, according to public records.
But this is seldom discussed in the realm of American politics.