I Was There When 5 Congressmen Were Shot

Five Congressmen Shot Down

Have you personally ever witnessed a mass shooting in a crowded public place?

I have.

Five Congressmen Shot Down

On March 1, 1954, at 2:30 p.m., the U.S. House of Representatives was in session, and I was there on the House Floor, working as a 15-year-old page boy. I saw five congressmen shot down, a horrific scene forever fixed in my memory.

This historic photo was taken just two minutes after four Puerto Rican nationalists fired 30 rounds into the House chamber from the Visitors’ Gallery, 10 feet away from where the shooters stood.

Five Congressmen Shot Down

I may well be one of the blurred figures in the lower right of the photo.

Yet Again

The horror of my youthful memory was revived on February 14 by the shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, only 20 miles from my home.

I don’t suggest that the wanton slaughter of 14 young people and three staff members is comparable to the shooting of five congressmen. I note only the personal impact each event had on me.

In 1954, as a teenage witness, I was scared and shaken momentarily. Now, 64 years later, as a former member of Congress myself, and as a father and grandfather, the terrible tragedy at Parkland depresses me profoundly. But it also encourages me to think how best we, as a people, can prevent these repetitious school gun massacres.

As a member of the Maryland State Senate representing five Chesapeake Bay counties where waterfowl hunting is a way of life, I had a perfect National Rifle Association (NRA) voting record.

Now, as then, I believe in Second Amendment rights, as defined by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in District of Columbia v. Heller, a case that affirmed both our right to own guns, but also underscored the government’s right to regulate firearms.

Scalia wrote:

Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose. […] The court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on […] laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.

I suspect many share my frustration about what must be done. Surely the militant actions of the Parkland high school students should inspire us all to join them in seeking solutions.

Designed to Kill

Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., a U.S. Army veteran who used an AR-15-style semi-automatic weapon in Afghanistan, said in a New York Times op-ed Friday that this gun is “an excellent platform for those who wish to kill the innocent.” He recommends that Congress define and again impose a national ban on the sale of assault weapons, as existed from 1994 to 2004, a position backed by 67% in a national poll following the shooting.

Mast also calls for background checks for all gun buyers, waiting periods, increasing the age of purchasers for various firearms and curbs on access for those with a mental illness.

I agree with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., that state legislators should consider enacting laws enabling family members or law enforcement officials to seek a court order to control anyone suspected of potential gun violence. Only five states now have such laws.

Newtown, Las Vegas, Orlando and now Parkland should never have yet another preventable tragedy added to this heartbreaking list.

After the 1954 Puerto Rican shooting that I witnessed, the security at the U.S. Capitol was greatly increased. Today, members of the Senate and the House enjoy some of the tightest and most elaborate protections against violence in America.

American students, and all Americans, deserve no less.

Yours for liberty,

Bob Bauman, JD

Legal Counsel, Banyan Hill Publishing

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17 comments

When will America ever wake up and join the rest of the civilized world ……….. WHY IN THE 21st Century does anyone realistically have to carry a weapon ??? When we talk about America being the most advanced country in the world and yet there is an uproar about NOT being able to carry a weapon, for which the only intention is to kill another person how can this be civilized? I cannot understand this.
America is no longer the Wild West or the last frontier. It has laws, Police, a structured society, a judicial and penitentiary system………..so WHY ON GODS EARTH does anyone need to carry a weapon (excluding sport or hunting) unless it is for the intention of killing, doing or threatening harm to another.
Are we not Christians who swear belief in God?
Where in the Bible does it say… we must carry a gun to that we can kill anyone who gets in our way ?? If you think it is to defend yourself then you are dreaming or watching too many movies.
I am not a devout Christian or Bible reader, but I have a reasonable education and have seen enough of other countries where they are allowed to have licensed weapons for sport and hunting yet they live happily without fearing everyday they take their kids to school. Because this is where America is going to end up………..
America citizens have to drive the change as politicians are all too scared for their positions due to the NRA lobby and funding.
America has to choose………do you really want to continue down this slippery slope of increasing gun violence and innocent children and adults are being massacred on a regular basis. Or do you want to show that you are an advanced country that believes in democracy rather than anarchy.

because the swamp only wants to disarm white Americans. when was the last time or the first time for that matter the swamp went in to Chicago and confiscated all the illegal arms.

The idea is to keep an out of control gov. in check. Its about Self control and personal responsibility.I have yet to hear even one person say this. Semi auto weapons have been around since? 1903? People need to talk about the breakdown of society and morals and values. i have had weapons since the fourth grade,The ammunition for them also.Kept in my bedroom.I never even thought about going somewhere and shooting people.i prefer to keep my freedoms and rights.

You seajay dont know what your talking about . You apparently do not get around much Im 82 years old and ive seen carrying a firearm stop **** ,robberies and fights several times in my life time.I even stopped 3 mexicans beating up on a rooky cop trying to get his gun while he was holding on for dear life with both hands on his holster trying to stop them from getting his gun .My gun stopped them .He might have been killed had they got his gun.I yelled manos arribas and fired one shot into the ground and that was the end of the fight. Now we have all thease law breaker immigrants flooding our country and you want to restrict the law abiding people.for what the crazies are doing and its going to get worse as history has proven that and you want to take away our guns..People who break laws are not going to follow any more laws on guns than they did before. Only law abiding people obey laws.are you too stupid to understand this.

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