According to one witness, the gunman had asked whether the men practicing were Republicans before opening fire. (Here and here).
The gunman was identified as James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois. Hodgkinson reportedly "belonged to a number of anti-Republican groups, including one called 'Terminate the Republican Party,'" and was a Bernie Sanders supporter. According to the Washington Post:
A Facebook page belonging to a person with the same name includes pictures of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and rhetoric against President Trump including a post that reads: “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”
“The only reason why any of us walked out of this thing, by the grace of God, one of the folks here (security detail traveling with Scalise) had a weapon to fire back and give us a moment to find cover. We were inside the backstop and if we didn’t have that cover by a brave person who stood up and took a shot themselves, we would not have gotten out of there and every one of us would have been hit — every single one of us,” said Bishop. “He was coming around the fence line and he was looking for all of us who had found cover in different spots. But if we didn’t have return fire right there, he would have come up to each one of us and shot us point-blank.”The Washington Post also quotes a couple Congressmen as stating that the shooter filed a hundred or more rounds. Per the Daily Mail, "Senator Rand Paul, who was at the scene but was not injured, described it as a 'killing field.'"
Let's deal with the first consequence of the shooting. The House committee hearing on the Hearing Protection Act, which had been scheduled for this morning, has been cancelled. I will be surprised if the bill gets much traction after this incident--at least this year.
I'm more worried, however, about the comments from several of the Congressmen present, especially Mike Bishop, which may provide food for the fodder of the anti-self-defense types. While Bishop was grateful for the return fire, this was from a Capital Police detail that providing security for Scalise. The consequence is that I would not be surprised to see a gun control bill (which would also increase funding for security of Congressmen) introduced as a result of this incident, whether Bishop supports it or not.
But in quickly researching Bishop's background, there is another possible outcome. Bishop seems to have a good record on upholding the Second Amendment, and has a concealed pistol license. (See here and here). So, the other outcome might be more support for national reciprocity for concealed weapons licenses.
Update: I reread David Hines' review and commentary on the book Days of Rage at Status 451, which discusses the violent terrorism in the United States in the late 1960s and through the 1970s. Hines opines that "domestic conflict in the United States could operate in basically four stages:
- cold Civil War
- targeted political violence, mostly short of murder
- political violence with murder as the default
- Civil War II
The United States should start seriously talking about National Divorce before we get to stage 3."
When Hines posted his article in January of this year, he thought the U.S. was at Stage 1. However, it appears that some 6 months later we are at Stage 2 and, with today, perhaps on the cusp of Stage 3.
(Updated: New information on the type of weapon used; thoughts on civil war)