Rep. Garret Graves calls for unity after Scalise shooting

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 21: House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) speaks during a news conference following the weekly House GOP conference meeting in the U.S. Capitol October 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) announced that the internal Republican election for speaker will be Oct. 28, and the floor election will be Oct. 29. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – Rep. Garret Graves issued a statement calling for a return to civil discourse in American politics in response to Steve Scalise’s shooting this morning.

In what police are calling a “deliberate attack,” Rep. Steve Scalise, the House Majority Whip and Metairie native, and two members of the congressional police force were among those hit during a baseball practice session. According to police, James Hodgkinson opened fire on the group that included several other members of the House of Representatives and their staffers.

Hodgkinson was shot and killed in the incident.

Here is Graves’ statement in full:

“Most importantly, we are thankful that our fellow Louisianian, Steve, is going to recover and remain strong. We will continue to pray for him, his wife Jennifer and kids as he goes through the healing process. We also pray for the staff and others wounded in today’s attack.

The heroic efforts of the Capitol Police protection detail cannot be overstated – their sacrificial patriotism prevented a massacre. This hero and shero risked their lives to save many others. God Bless them, and we pray for their speedy recovery.

Today is sobering and frustrating. It is sobering because it reminds us how quickly these senseless attacks can destroy lives. These can be fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, friends and neighbors. They are not nameless or faceless individuals.

The attack is frustrating because I expect that this will ultimately demonstrate that words and rhetoric have consequences. Over the last several months, verbal attacks, divisiveness, and polarization have reached inappropriate and unhealthy levels in our government. Many thoughtlessly lob verbal grenades without considering the consequences.

The 435 members of the House represent the great diversity of our amazing nation. We bring these broad perspectives and priorities of our districts together in the House to advance America. It is our job to find common ground and to work together to actually solve problems. We can disagree and have different perspectives without being disagreeable. Sadly, it seems, politics in many cases has devolved into a dehumanized ‎blood sport. Contributing to the problem, many in the media and bloggers have evolved from reporters to editorialists and provokers spreading misinformation and sensationalism. I apologize for any contribution I may have caused.

All of us should take a big step back‎ to remember and embrace that above the tags of left, right, liberal, conservative and every title in between – we are FIRST Americans. This bond we share is more important than the politics we don’t. We must work together, from the foundation of our shared love of our country, our heritage and our freedom, to constructively create the America our countrymen and women deserve. Binding up the wounds will take time, but we must start now. “