BAYHAM: Learning From The Scalise Shooting

The office of Louisiana US Representative and Republican Majority Whip Steve Scalise shared news that he underwent another surgery related to an infection and that his condition has been upgraded to fair.

Scalise has been hospitalized since June 14th when a leftist political activist opened fire on Scalise and his fellow GOP congressmen while practicing in a suburban Washington playground before the annual interparty congressional baseball game.

Scalise has undergone numerous surgeries during that time, with his condition fluctuating from fair to serious to critical and has been in and out of the MedStar Washington Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.

While in Miami to deliver a major policy speech reshaping the United States’ relationship with the Communist regime in Cuba, President Trump said that “Steve Scalise took a bullet for all of us.”

I could not agree with the president more.

The Prussian general and military theorist Carl von Clausewitz famously opined that “War is the continuation of politics by other means.”

The massacre that James Hodgkinson attempted to perpetrate was an assault on democracy.

Upset that the electoral process did not produce his desired result, Hodgkinson set out to murder the individuals who reflected the will of the people.

Fourteen members of Congress have been killed while serving and another ten received serious injuries.

The last two who died in office were Georgia Congressman Larry McDonald, who was aboard Korean Air Lines Flight 007, which was shot down by a Soviet warplane and California Congressman Leo Ryan, who went to Jonestown to conduct an investigation of the the People’s Temple cult and was killed while attempting to leave.  In both cases, the federal officials were not so much targeted but were at the wrong place at the wrong time.

The two congressmen who were killed before McDonald and Ryan were national figures with presidential aspirations: New York US Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Louisiana US Senator Huey Long.

The Kingfish’s mortal wounding continues to be a subject of debate.  The Long family puts the blame squarely on Dr. Carl Weiss, who they maintain set out to gun Long down for impugning the good name of Weiss’s in-laws while others believe the senator was accidentally shot by his bodyguards in the confusion caused by Weiss socking Long in the face.

There’s little doubt who shot Bobby Kennedy and the motivation. Palestinian Sirhan Sirhan (born a Christian but later associated with Rosicrucians) killed Kennedy over his support for arming Israel.

We live in a world that is technologically different from what it was just twenty years ago.

While magnetometers can be placed at the front of areas where public officials are set to appear and a venue can be inspected by bomb sniffing dogs and ringed with armed security, the world outside of the perimeter cannot be secured or locked down.  The same technological advancements that aid law enforcement also create new challenges for police.

Would-be assassins can use smart phone apps and drones to plot their moves and track their targets, if not kill them.

It’s not necessary to be a skilled marksman or have military training to create havoc, just a gun (obtained just as easily illegally as legally), a determination to do the deed, and a willingness to lose everything, including his or her life.

By virtue of being in the House leadership, Scalise has a detail of Capitol Police that accompany him everywhere.

Scalise’s security personnel was not just the difference between Scalise being seriously wounded as opposed to killed on site, but their presence and service proved to be the difference between four people sustaining bullet injuries to the worst massacre of federal officials in the nation’s history as the gunman got off over 40 shots before being taken down.

Had Scalise not been on the diamond, not only would there have been a number of congressmen killed but it’s very likely Hodgkinson would have been able to flee the scene and perhaps make a final stand in a more populated area.

While Congresswoman Gabby Giffords survived the point blank head shot she suffered at the hands of Jared Loughner, six others were not so fortunate, including a nine year old girl.

Because of their high profile and the far-reaching important decisions they make on domestic and foreign policies, all members of Congress should have a Capitol Police security detail of two people while in the Washington area and a locally provided security detail when back in their state.

The nation should not have to endure the tragedy of seeing their federal representatives gunned down to belatedly implement a pricey but necessary precaution.  Particularly as the political temperature of the nation has shown no signs of cooling down.

Scalise likely has many medical procedures yet to endure and like Giffords, his life will never be the same, if only due to the permanent physical limitations resulting from the damage inflicted from the bullet that entered at his hip.

We cannot appreciate what Steve, his wife Jennifer, and their children have experienced throughout this long and terrible ordeal.

And there’s no telling when the congressman will finally be discharged from the hospital.

To provide some context of severity of Scalise’s condition, Ronald Reagan returned to the White House within two weeks of John Hinckley’s assassination attempt.

The prayers of people from across Louisiana and America have been heard and answered, and we welcome the positive news about Scalise’s medical progress.

It’s now time for our men and women who are charged with carrying forward the wishes of their constituents, protecting our constitution and laws, and advancing their respective local and state interests to receive adequate security.

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