LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Politicians are used to getting up close and personal with their constituents, but questions are being asked about their personal safety after Wednesday’s shooting attack by a rifle-wielding gunman at a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Va., just of Washington, D.C.
“We love being in a crowd, we love taking questions, we love talking to people,” L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson said.
But for politicians like Wesson, Wednesday’s shooting was a reminder that elected officials can be targets.
In 2011, Rep. Gabby Giffords was nearly killed by a gunman in a shooting that claimed six lives. It happened at a constituent meeting in a Tucson parking lot.
But despite the security risks of going out in public, often without heavy security, Wesson says politicians should not be sealed off from the people they represent.
“If I can’t touch people and they can’t touch me back, then I cannot do my job,” said Wesson.
Part of the growing concern for many is the current political climate.
Burbank Rep. Adam Schiff is asking if Wednesday’s attack is an extension of the divisions in our country.
“Obviously, this is a horror, and it’s going to cause a lot of reflection about the nature of our political discourse these days and what needs to be done about it,” said Schiff.
Wesson says constituents need a way to vent their frustrations in a healthy and safe way “so people can make their cases, and they don’t have to do it at the point of a gun.”