On Friday, a day after a sniper attack left five Dallas police officers dead, Washington state Republican Rep. David Reichert said he was heartbroken.
“There’s a fear that’s building. . . . Where else can it happen?” asked Reichert, a former sheriff and lawman of 33 years. “People just have this feeling that America is crumbling and falling apart.”
In the past year, Reichert, a sixth-term congressman, has emerged as the go-to guy for Republicans in the House of Representatives on policing issues.
After riots broke out in Ferguson, Missouri, and in Baltimore, House Republicans gave a new assignment to the 65-year-old Reichert, asking him to lead a congressional task force to find ways to ease the seemingly never-ending tensions between minorities and law enforcement.
And amid the disbelief and sorrow that swept the U.S. Capitol on Friday, Reichert, a longtime centrist, found himself in the middle yet again, searching for a solution that he hoped could unite Democrats and Republicans alike.
“We’ve got to be able to convince people to come together on protecting Americans and ending violence – period,” Reichert said. “This has got to end. We’re not a Third World country. We’re the United States of America leading the rest of the world, supposedly.”
For starters, Reichert said, Congress and President Barack Obama should dump the tiresome arguments over gun control and actually do something to reduce gun crimes.
“All we do when we get into the debate on gun control is yell and scream past each other and nothing gets done,” Reichert said. “One side wants to take away guns and the other side doesn’t want to take any gun rights whatsoever. You’ve got two ideological positions that will never change. . . . The rhetoric gets to such a high pitch and fervor that it incites more violence.”