Rep. Charles Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) acknowledged Wednesday morning that Congress might need to rethink the security for lawmakers at large public events following the shooting at his team’s practice session ahead of Thursday’s Congressional Baseball Game.
But he pledged to keep getting out publicly in his East Tennessee district, including attending an eight-day music festival known as Riverbend that will continue into this weekend.
“I have always felt safe in the district. I represent wonderful people in East Tennessee,” Fleischmann told reporters Wednesday morning.
“I always wanted to be out with the people. That’s where I feel best actually seeing the common men and women who are great and make this country great everyday,” he said. “I’m not going to change that. If someone wants to take an act of violence against me — I hope and pray they never do — but we cannot let the bad guys win this thing.”
Fleischmann was near the shooter when he started firing and said he’s a little bruised and bloodied but fine.
Tearing up, he said, “I just hope and pray we see better days in America.”
Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was badly wounded by a gunman in early 2010 at a town hall meeting in her Tucson-area district, and several of her constituents died. In the time since, there have been waves of rowdy town hall events that have caused apprehension in some lawmakers.
But after Wednesday’s attack on Republican members, Fleischmann said members will have to think about security for their events going forward.
He noted that security and local law enforcement are omnipresent at big events in Washington, D.C., but there hasn’t been a need for it at baseball practice, which he’s attended for the past seven years.
“It’s really like the field of dreams. We go out there, and we play the great American sport, baseball. We have always felt safe. That has never entered my mind. As a matter of fact, when that first shot went off, I still didn’t have any security concerns, because I just couldn’t fathom that would have been a gunshot.”
Fleischmann later led a prayer for the members there.