Politicians have called for unity and prayers after Wednesday's congressional shooting in Virginia, but the incident has only deepened controversies including the Second Amendment debate. After Sen. Rand Paul—who was in the batting cage when James Hodgkinson opened fire on the baseball field—spoke about the shooting, critics unearthed a tweet he made last year and accused him of hypocrisy, the Daily Dot reports. "Why do we have a Second Amendment? It's not to shoot deer. It's to shoot at the government when it becomes tyrannical!" the June 23 tweet read. A spokesman for the senator tells Mediaite that the tweet was sent by staffer quoting Fox contributor Judge Napolitano, and "those are not Senator Paul's words." In other coverage:
- Hodgkinson was a vocal critic of President Trump who volunteered for the Bernie Sanders campaign. Conservative commentators blamed leftist rhetoric for the shooting, sharing a quote from Sanders' address to the People's Summit in Chicago over the weekend, when he told people they should be angry but to take their anger out on the right people, the Washington Post reports. Rush Limbaugh described the shooter as a "mainstream Democratic voter."
- At Salon, Bob Cesca says that instead of talking about using guns against tyrants, the GOP should now try to "return to the values of, at the very least, Ronald Reagan and James Brady, who supported modest regulations against the unrestricted purchase of handguns, assault rifles, and the like."
- The New York Times reports that in social media posts and letters to the Belleville News-Democrat, his local paper before he relocated from Illinois to Virginia in late March, Hodgkinson frequently referred to Sanders and attacked Trump and other Republicans. A cartoon he posted on Facebook Tuesday read: "How does a bill work?" "That’s an easy one, Billy. Corporations write the bill and then bribe Congress until it becomes law."
- Analysts tell the Hill that despite hopes the shooting will be a "sea change" that reduces partisanship, the US has changed since the days when there were plenty of conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans, and is likely to stay polarized. "There were always people on the fringe, but they never dominated the discussion. They were background noise,” former GOP Sen. Judd Gregg says. "Unfortunately, now on social media and the 24/7 cable news channels, those folks have the arena."
- At the conservative National Review, the editors write that while Hodgkinson was probably influenced by "intemperate rhetoric," "'the Resistance' is no more responsible for him than the pro-life movement is responsible for Robert Dear." They say that they are glad that at least in this case, their "friends on the other side of the aisle" agree that "political speech is not violence, and violence is not political speech."
(Read more James Hodgkinson