The shooting at a Republican congressional baseball team practice was in some ways a microcosm of the long-standing and heated debate about guns in U.S. society, reports the Washington Post. For those in favor of gun control, that the shooter legally owned and carried a permit for the military-style semiautomatic rifle he used in a public place proved that too many guns with too much firepower are far too accessible. For gun rights supporters, that armed officers from the U.S. Capitol Police stopped the shooter and prevented what could have been a mass slaying showed the importance of having guns in public so people can defend themselves against such attacks. “It would have been a massacre without them,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) of the police officers who shot attacker James Hodgkinson.
“If this had happened in Georgia, he wouldn’t have gotten too far,” said Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), who was on the baseball field. He said one of his staffers keeps a 9mm handgun in his car in Georgia but does not have a firearm with him in the D.C. area because of legal restrictions in the city. Within minutes of the shooting Wednesday, it became clear that the right and left would both view the context very differently. “If grown GOP were scared this am, can one imagine the terror kids had at Sandy Hook? Wake up GOP!!! #GunControl,” read a tweet. “Before libs start w their Gun Control bs, this could have been done with a large truck or a butcher knife, good people w guns stopped it,” read an opposing tweet. Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) told a Buffalo television station that he will now carry his gun everywhere in light of the shooting. The shooting occurred on the same day that lawmakers were to hold a hearing on deregulating gun silencers. The hearing was canceled.