Early on Wednesday morning, 66-year-old James Hodgkinson from Belleville, Illinois, injured Republican Congressman Steve Scalise, one congressional staffer, one lobbyist and two law enforcement officials at a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia during a firearm battle. Hodgkinson died at the scene. While the motives of Hodgkinson are unknown, he was an avid supporter of Bernie Sanders campaign, leading many to believe the violence was politically-based. In reaction, Senator Sanders released a statement stating, 

“I am sickened by this despicable act. Let me be as clear as I can be — violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society, and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms. Real change can only come about through nonviolent action, and anything else runs counter to our most deeply held American values." 

Washington Hospital Center released a statement stating that, "Congressman Steve Scalise sustained a single rifle shot to the left hip, He underwent immediate surgery, and an additional procedure to stop bleeding. His condition is critical, and he will require additional operations." 

Below are six students' reactions to the Virginia shootings.

1. Maya Ungar, University of Arkansas, International Studies, Political Science, and French

“l think that the shooting in Virginia is a tragedy, and should be mourned as one, no matter your side of the political aisle. Even if you do not agree with the politics of those shot, they are still people, and are still spending their lives trying to best represent the people they serve. That is something to be commended, and my thoughts are with all those affected.”

2. Diana Pope, Bryn Mawr College, Political Science

“I feel like we have to stop blaming what happened on any particular party or political issue. After the shooting, I think that everyone tried to quickly form a political argument and discuss the 'nature of political rhetoric in this country' before acknowledging the sadness of the situation itself. I didn't see many people who were concerned about whether or not the victims were safe after the incident. Also, I don't think anyone thought about the police officers who rushed to help in the midst of such a terrifying scene. These police officers put their lives on the line to help the citizens at the baseball event. We need to start moving away from starting a political argument every time something horrible happens, and care about who's truly being hurt in times in trouble.”

3. Ryan Zunker, Lake Forest College, Math and Computer Science

“This attack in Virginia seems to suggest that things are coming to a breaking point. People feel as though they no longer have a voice and that simply talking about issues doesn’t seem to do anything anymore. This combined with the fact that the left and the right are growing increasingly further apart seems to be drawing more citizens to violence. It seems that unless we as a nation can get to a better place of civil discourse incidents like this will only continue to escalate and grow more frequent.”

4. Natalie Dahl, Ramapo College, Nursing

“To be honest, I didn't really have a reaction. When I heard about it on television, I was sad, but in my head I just thought about how I wasn't surprised because we have shootings in our country so frequently. I've become polarized to gun violence and it scares me a bit. I feel like I should be devastated, but I'd be devastated a lot and that probably wouldn't be good for my mental health. However, I am happy that government officials like Nancy Pelosi and Paul Ryan had messages that talked about unity regardless of party soon after the shooting occurred. I appreciate that in the wake of tragedy, they could put political differences aside and mourn together.”

5. Hakob Parsamyan, Lake Forest College, International Relations and Public Relations

“Well, in my opinion it is not important to take into account if a Democrat shot a Republican or if a Republican shot a Democrat, what matters is that an American should not shoot another American and that a human-being should not shoot another human-being. The problem here is not the political side of the issue, but the moral side of it.”

6. Michael Bengah, University of Oklahoma, Finance and Accounting

"My thoughts are with the family and relatives of those affected by this senseless shooting in Virginia. This despicable act does not represent what America stands for and everyone regardless of race, nationality or political affiliation must condemn and stand against this barbaric act and I hope and pray justice is served."

College students seem to agree that the primary focus right now should be unity rather than polarizing others based on their political backgrounds.

Lead Image Credit: Ben White via Unsplash