House Majority Whip Steven Scalise (R-LA) has said that he actively opposes any new gun control measures — despite being himself badly injured in a shooting earlier this year.
The Republican Congressman was nearly killed in June when a gunman opened fire at the annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity. Scalise was shot in the hip and despite his injuries, dragged himself away from the gunfire. He had several operations to repair the damage before returning to Congress on September 28.
But he told NBC’s Chuck Todd Sunday that he still stood behind Americans’ “unlimited” right to possess guns.
“The Second Amendment predates the Bill of Rights. Our Founding Fathers believed strongly in guns rights for citizens,” Scalise said. “It is a long history in our country to make sure you protect the rights of citizens to bear arms.”
Scalise also used some of the GOP’s favorite talking points about gun violence. He pointed to the high homicide rate in Chicago as proof that stricter gun laws don’t stop shootings.
“If you look at some of the places where you have bad gun violence… you go to a city like Chicago, [with] some of the toughest gun laws in the country, and yet they have the worse gun violence,” he said. This theory neglects to mention that more than half the guns seized in Chicago have come from outside the state, especially Indiana and Mississippi.
He added that the government should focus on enforcing the existing gun laws before passing any new ones. “Don’t try to put new laws in place that don’t fix these problems,” he said. “They only make it harder for law-abiding citizens to get a gun.”
However the GOP has sought over the years to make enforcing existing gun laws nearly impossible. The Republican sponsored Tiahrt Amendment, for instance, which prohibits the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms from maintaining an online gun database. Agents must instead use an antiquated card catalog system to track weapons used in the commission of a crime. The ATF has also been consistently underfunded, further hampering the agency’s ability to help enforce existing gun laws.
Scalise told NBC he’d been overwhelmed by the love and support that he and his family were given in wake of the shooting. Next Friday he will be addressing the Family Research Council — an anti-gay conservative group — at their Values Voter Summit. One of the Capitol Police Officers who saved Scalise’s life is openly gay.