The firearms used in the shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and other congressional Republicans were reportedly legally purchased. James Hodgkinson opened fire on the Republican baseball team yesterday morning, as they were practicing or tonight’s charity baseball game against the Democrats in Alexandria, Virginia. Scalise was hit in the hip and is in critical condition. Staffer and Capitol Police officer present at the scene were also wounded. The only person to have been killed so far is Hodgkinson, who was shot by police during the attack.
Hodgkinson used an SKS rifle and a 9mm handgun during the attack. If that rifle sounds familiar, it’s the one used by Micah Johnson, who murdered five Dallas police officers in July of 2016 during an organized protest.
Now, let’s get a few things straight. ABC News reported that the SKS is an assault rifle. It is not. It’s semiautomatic, it generally carries a ten-round magazine, and it was not included in the 1994 ban under the Clinton administration. The rifle is over 70 years old; therefore, it’s not a variant of the AK-47. To remind those not familiar with firearms, semi-automatic means one shot per trigger pull. The vast majority of firearms owned in the U.S. are semiautomatic. The 9mm handgun is a semiautomatic firing system. Automatic systems, like the rifles used by our military, have that select fire option—meaning multiple rounds can be dispersed per trigger pull. Civilians can own such weapons if they pay the ATF tax stamp, pass a background check (which can take up to a year or longer), and have their name and weapon placed in a federal database. There is nothing alien about a semiautomatic firearm.
UPDATE: Clay Jenkins, Dallas County’s chief executive and director of homeland security and emergency management, said Micah Johnson used a SKS rifle, but The Wall Street Journal (citing an unnamed official) and NBC News have conflicting reports that Johnson used a Saiga AK-74 5.45x39mm rifle.