Rep. Steve Scalise, the number three House Republican leader, who was seriously wounded by a gunman targeting a GOP congressional baseball team practice last summer, met with high school students from Parkland, Florida, on Monday afternoon to share their experiences and talk about coping after being attacked.
Scalise’s spokeswoman Lauren Fine told CNN that the meeting in the whip’s office in the Capitol with a group of students and alumni from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School covered “how we move forward as a country following the tragic shooting on February 14th.”
The Louisiana Republican, according to Fine, “heard from them about their experiences, shared his own experience with the group and talked about the healing process in the wake of traumatic events. Whip Scalise noted how important his faith, family, friends and colleagues are in his recovery, and urged the students not to be afraid to ask their community for help and to keep supporting one another.”
When CNN asked whether the topic of guns had come up at the meeting, Fine replied: “They discussed a variety of issues and everyone felt open to share their views.”
In the days following the shooting, President Donald Trump expressed support for proposals to beef up background checks for gun buyers, increase the age for purchasing rifles and ban bump fire stocks, devices that enable semiautomatic firearms to fire like automatic weapons.
But in an interview Monday on Fox News, Scalise made it clear he was skeptical of any legislation that would tighten gun restrictions. Instead, he pointed to missteps by local law enforcement agencies at the Parkland high school shooting.
“At the local level, we’re finding out more and more disturbing information about the local sheriff’s deputies. At least one, maybe more than one, were on site armed to protect those kids, who stayed outside instead of going in and confronting the shooter. In my case, the fact that you had two armed police officers there, who confronted the shooter immediately, saved not only my life but all the other members of Congress at that ballfield. Why did those breakdowns occur?” Scalise asked.
He added, “Let’s close loopholes. Let’s figure out what went wrong before we start talking about taking away the rights of law abiding citizens.”
Pressed about a House GOP colleague, Rep. Brian Mast of Florida, who is calling for a ban on assault style weapons, Scalise made it clear he didn’t back that idea.
“All these breakdowns in government show you why so many people — millions of people across the country — want to have the right to defend themselves, and so passing laws that take away the rights of law abiding gun owners, that is something that concerns a lot of us because we see failures that shouldn’t have happened, that should have stopped this from happening.”