How Congress Can Fight Political Violence

Partisan polarization is getting worse, and gun control has stalled. But Democrats and Republicans can unite over treatment for troubled people.

The shooting of U.S. Representative Steve Scalise and four others early Wednesday in Alexandria, Virginia, is a reminder of how paralyzed the gun debate has become in America. After all, if anything could change the minds of legislators who oppose gun control, it would be their becoming the target of gun violence. But, as with the 2011 shooting of Representative Gabby Gifford in Tuscon, Arizona, the immediate response has been for lawmakers to reiterate their political positions on the issue.

Mo Brooks, a congressman from Alabama, was at the baseball practice targeted by James T. Hodgkinson, the 66-year-old suspect who died after a shootout with police. Asked if the incident had changed his position on gun control, Brooks replied, “Not with respect to the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment right to bear arms is to ensure that we always have a republic. And as with any constitutional provision in the Bill of Rights, there are adverse aspects to each of those rights that we enjoy as people. And what we just saw here is one of the bad side effects of someone not exercising those rights properly.” Senator Lindsey Graham had a similar response:

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