Local lawmakers discuss security, political hostility following ballpark shooting

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Local lawmakers expressed shock and concerned after a gunman opened fire on their colleagues practicing for the Congressional Baseball Game.

No Quad City area lawmakers were at the practice on Wednesday, June 14. However, the attack hit close to home for Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, D-Illinois, who plays on the Congressional Softball team.

"It's truly one of the few activities -- that and our Congressional Women's Softball Game that's scheduled for next week -- that is a bipartisan event that we do to bring us together, to help charity, and here you've got this lunatic who goes out there and starts shooting people," said Bustos.

One Illinois lawmaker was part of the group practicing when the shooting started. Rep. Rodney Davis, a Republican from downstate Taylorville, said he was lucky to get away unharmed.

"We heard a loud noise. It felt like a construction site, somebody dropped a big piece of metal, and then the next thing I remember is somebody on the field yelling, 'Run, he's got a gun!'" said Davis.

For at least a few hours following the attack, members of Congress put politics aside.

Despite calls for unity, however, Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, said he's concerned about the hostile tone of today's politics.

"For years I have been talking about the lack of civility in our politics and in our public arena, and it's just something we definitely have to address. Whether this particular incident grew out of that or was abetted by that, I can't say for sure, but it's something we have to deal with," said Loebsack.

The shooting has also raised some questions about security for lawmakers. There was a security detail at the baseball practice with Congressman Scalise, but most members of Congress do not travel with that type of security.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he doesn't see that changing in the near future.

"In Iowa, most people kind of think or know that I'm their senator. So, it might be more important in Iowa, but I don't consider Iowans a threat," said Grassley.

The Congressional Baseball Game, which is a 108-year tradition, will continue as scheduled Thursday night.

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