Baseball Shooting Has Some Lawmakers Rethinking Security

WASHINGTON — The attack on a group of Republican lawmakers at a baseball practice this week prompted declarations of unity and a fresh look at the role divisive rhetoric played in the violence.But for some members of Congress, the shooting — which wounded House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others — prompted new concerns about their safety in a fractured America.“I can’t speak for every lawmaker, but I have felt less safe based on the threats, the tone, the discourse, the coarseness of language I’ve seen on social media and in meetings I’ve had,” said Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan.His office, like many in Congress on the left and right, fields its fair share of alarming phone calls and threats both at work and home. Even before this week’s violence, Flores’ team took steps to enhance security back home, installing video security in each district office shortly after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. And his office now has law enforcement at most public meetings.“We didn’t do that before,” he said.Political violence is nothing new in the U.S., a country that has seen multiple assassinations — or attempts — of presidents and political leaders throughout its history. Yet violence against lawmakers is relatively rare, with this week’s shooting the first major attack on federal lawmakers since former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was wounded in 2011.Still, the shooting has prompted new discussion on Capitol Hill about what steps lawmakers can take to protect themselves and their staffs in an era of political divisiveness, without closing off the public they are expected to serve.Several GOP lawmakers have faced raucous crowds at contentious town halls this year — similar to what Democrats endured in the early discussions over the Affordable Care Act. Others have been criticized for avoiding in-person town halls altogether.  Continue reading...

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