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Rep. Mark Walker: ‘God’s hand of protection was on that field that day’

At conservative gathering, Walker discusses recent brush with death at congressional baseball practice while urging continued robust debate

U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, R-6th District, in 2017. (CJ file photo)
U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, R-6th District, in 2017. (CJ file photo)

Mark Walker is a Baptist minister, so his explanation as to why he and other Republican congressmen survived a mass assassination attempt isn’t surprising.

“God’s hand of protection was on that field that day,” said Walker, who represents North Carolina’s 6th Congressional District.

“Let me say on behalf of our guys, when you live through an assassination plot it’s a little unnerving,” Walker said. “It should have been, on paper, a massacre that morning,”

Walker, a Greensboro resident first elected to Congress in 2014, lamented the seething partisan feelings in today’s political climate.

“We live in a day of hate, don’t we? The hate has just become a feverish pitch,” Walker told an audience June 17 at the Civitas Institute’s Conservative Leadership Conference in Raleigh.

He said Twitter now features the hashtag #HuntRepublicanCongressmen. He said he read an article in the Huffington Post saying it was disappointing only one pro-life member of Congress was shot.

Walker was the starting pitcher for the Republican baseball team that came under heavy rifle fire on a community baseball field June 14 while taking practice in preparation for an annual congressional charity game against Democrats.

The shooter, James Hodgkinson of Illinois, died after a chaotic shootout with members of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s security detail. David Bailey, a Capitol Police officer and N.C. Central University graduate, and another Capitol Police officer returned fire.

Walker asked his audience to continue praying for Scalise, who suffered a life-threatening gunshot to his hip, a congressional staff member, a lobbyist, and Capitol Police officer Crystal Griner. All were shot by Hodgkinson.

“Steve has gone through some valleys the last couple of days” to the point of life and death, Walker said. “He is bouncing back.”

It is vital for conservatives to stand for truth now rather than pull back or return the vitriolic behavior, he said.

“We can stand for those values, we can stand for those principles, yet we can accomplish this with great statesmanship,” Waker said. People of faith need to use that spiritual filter to make the conservative message resonate.

Rather than avoid communities that don’t share those values, now is the time to engage them, and share conservative ideas, he said.

He said he’s not going to back off his pro-life stance advocating for the unborn in the face of the threats. He and other Republicans will continue advocating for personal and fiscal responsibility, and strong national defense.

Walked pointed to fellow Republican Rep. Mark Meadows, who represents the state’s 11th Congressional District. Walker said they serve together on the House Oversight Committee.

“We just recently had a hearing on ‘Fast and Furious,’ and we refuse to let some of this stuff go,” Walker said.

They want to hold former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder accountable for the Obama-era federal gun trafficking scheme that allowed weapons to be sold illegally to Mexican drug cartels. One was used to slay U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, and Walker said his family deserves justice.

Returning all education to the states remains a very important goal for him.

“If you want to see success, any time that we can localize government we have a chance to make it more functional,” Walker said.

Although it gets little media mention, Walker said the House has passed 158 bills, the most in the past four or five administrations, and  President Trump has signed 37 of those into law.

“So when you hear that this administration is not doing anything, that’s the most bills signed into law … since Ronald Reagan became president,” Walker said, and most of them roll back regulations. “Things are happening in Washington, D.C.”