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After a gunman opened fire on several Republican congressmen and their staffers at a baseball field in Virginia on Wednesday morning, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told reporters that the attack could have ended in a “massacre” had it not been for the Capitol Police.
Sen. Paul was sitting in the batting cage when he heard the gunshots; he had been practicing with the GOP congressional baseball team. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and four others who were also in attendance were injured, but Capitol Police officers quickly engaged with and apprehended the perpetrator, whom police later identified as 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson from Illinois.
“Everybody probably would have died except for the fact that the Capitol Hill police were there,” Paul told MSNBC. “Unfortunately, [Rep. Scalise] was hit and I hope he does well, but also by him being there it probably saved everyone else’s lives because if you don’t have a leadership person there, there would have been no security there.”
Paul also released a statement echoing his praise and appreciation for the Capitol Police officers who stopped the shooter.
My statement on the shooting this AM in Alexandria. pic.twitter.com/jrZxdqTchD— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) June 14, 2017
The incident quickly ignited a gun control debate online where the shooting was utilized by those who advocate for stricter gun laws, on one hand, as well as those believe looser gun laws could have prevented such an attack and helped stopped the one that occurred.
Virginia:— David Frum (@davidfrum) June 14, 2017
No background checks
No permit req’d for concealed carry of long guns
Open carry long guns & handguns
Before libs start w their Gun Control bs, this could have been done with a large truck or a butcher knife, good people w guns stopped it— Hickory Taylor (@HickoryTaylor) June 14, 2017
Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, a debate on the availability of gun silencers scheduled Wednesday afternoon was delayed after the shooting.
As the heated debated centered on Second Amendment rights intensifies once again, one of Sen. Paul’s own tweets resurfaced—one that some suggest smacks of hypocrisy, given his press statements.
In June last year, a tweet from Paul’s official account quoted Fox News contributor Judge Napolitano while livetweeting an event, writing: “[We] have a Second Amendment … to shoot at the government when it becomes tyrannical!”
.@Judgenap: Why do we have a Second Amendment? It's not to shoot deer. It's to shoot at the government when it becomes tyrannical!— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) June 23, 2016
The senator’s office tells the Daily Dot that a staffer, not Paul, wrote the tweet.
Paul has presented a pro-gun stance throughout his political career, with a voting record to show it. He has opposed legislation he believed impinged on the constitutional right to ownership, which maintains the right to bear arms as “necessary to the security of a free State.”
However, on Wednesday, critics claim, Paul found himself at the wrong end of the argument above when he was targeted himself.
This has not aged well, Senator. https://t.co/j37MOwPB0l— Bradley P. Moss, Esq (@BradMossEsq) June 14, 2017
This tweet aged well... https://t.co/KyUAPQ8ITe— Joshua Holland (@JoshuaHol) June 14, 2017
well, this tweet aged like yogurt behind the radiator https://t.co/O5UZa5iBB4— sick transit, gloria (@samknight1) June 14, 2017
Time to re-think this kind of rhetoric. Please. https://t.co/DizmhTg6oy— Thom Hartmann (@Thom_Hartmann) June 14, 2017
Update 7:22am CT, June 15: Sen. Paul’s communications director, Sergio Gor, told the Daily Dot in an email: “Senator Paul never said those words. The tweet you reference was part of livetweeting of someone else’s speech and it was done by a staffer.”
David Gilmour is a reporter who specializes in national politics, internet culture, and technology.