Political Insider

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Access v. security? Baseball shooting prompts Georgia discussion

We nearly missed this as news of this morning's GOP baseball practice shooting began to trickle out of Washington, but over at Fox Business two Georgia Republicans offered their opening salvos to a debate that's sure to rage on Capitol Hill in the weeks ahead.

After expressing their shock and horror over Wednesday's events, U.S. Sen. David Perdue and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich both discussed whether security for elected leaders needed to be beefed up after a gunman reportedly injured several people, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, at a baseball field in Alexandria, Va.:

Perdue said the news “just accentuates: we've got to find a balance between being available and accessible to our constituents and the public and yet providing security for our leaders," he said.

Gingrich offered a much different view:

"In a free society, if you're going to have representative government, everybody below the president and the vice president is going to be at some risk because otherwise you can't reach them. If you start sealing people off they become an aristocracy of security. Yes, it's a little frightening. Yes, it's a little dangerous. But I think it's also the price of a free society, and I would hope that we wouldn't rush to tighten things up even more, which is one of our unfortunate habits after each of these incidents.”

We'll be interested to hear what U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk thinks. The Cassville Republican was at the practice Wednesday morning as events unfolded.

Gov. Nathan Deal offered this take to fellow Insider Greg Bluestein:

“It should not be politicized. I don’t think any of us at this point know what the motivations were. But even if they are political, we all need to understand that we sometimes need to lower the rhetoric in political circles, and in the media, that does not raise the fears and the apprehensions of people that would lead them to do things like this. To understand someone that would take a rifle and shoot down people is almost unfathomable.”

Read more: Georgia congressmen safe after shots fired at GOP baseball practice


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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that impact Georgia.