GOP rep regrets heated rhetoric, will carry firearm

US Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) delivers a speech on the second day of the Republican National Convention on July 19, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Rep. Chris Collins said Thursday he regrets blaming Democrats in the aftermath of the congressional baseball practice shooting, saying he “did lash out” but that it was “wrong” and that politicians from both sides should “try to tone down” their rhetoric.

“I will admit that early yesterday, right after I got the news … I think in that emotion, I did lash out,” the New York Republican said on CNN’s “New Day.” “And you know, it would certainly appear this individual, the anger was certainly tied to the rhetoric going on. And so, I did say what I said, that I was putting the blame on the Democrats’ doorstep.”

He added, “And then, you know, the emotion of that instance wore off, you know, an hour or two later. I looked in the mirror. And I said, that’s not the right tone. I am going to do what I can to help reverse this.”

Collins had said In an interview with radio station WBEN in the wake of the attack that Democratic opposition to President Donald Trump had “gone too far.” He said Democrats should “tone down the rhetoric” that “some people react to things like that, people get angry as well, and you fuel the fires.”

President Trump visits Scalise, other shooting victims at hospital

Collins said Thursday, “I, myself, am going to try to tone down some of my rhetoric, and I would invite my Democrat friends — and they are friends — to do likewise.” He said “all of us now have had a chance to reflect, to look in the mirror, and say, ‘You know what, it’s on all of us.'”

“We don’t know what the trigger was,” he said. “This was a troubled individual — angered. We don’t know what ultimately the trigger was.”

Collins also revealed he would start regularly carrying a firearm, having previously kept one in the glove box of his car.

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“I’ve had a carry permit for 30 years, and I would say off and on in different instances where I have, you know, felt it was appropriate, I would carry the weapon on myself,” he said. Collins cited his concern about potential “copycats” and said that “certainly in the short term I’m going to go a step beyond just having it in the glove box in my car and I will be carrying.”

Rep. Steve Scalise was among those wounded Wednesday after a gunman opened fired while Republican members of Congress were practicing baseball in Alexandria, Virginia. The shooting marks the first time a sitting member of Congress has been shot since Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was targeted by a gunman in 2011.