Tom Delay recalls 1998 shooting of Capitol officers

For many, the shootings are like a nightmare. For former House Majority Leader Tom Delay, they are a recurring nightmare.

“Just all kinds of memories come forward again,” Delay said.

It was July 1998, a deranged man named Russell Eugene Weston Jr. killed two Capitol Police officers, Officer Jacob Chestnut and Detective John Gibson. 

“Of course I miss John Gibson dearly. He was one of my security officers, but at the same time he was like a brother to me.”

The bullets shattered many lives that day and for Delay it shattered the bubble of safety. He realized then, just like so many people may be just realizing now, that being in Congress can be a dangerous job.  He says its more dangerous now than ever because the political mood in Washington, and indeed the entire country is so toxic that it sets the stage for acts of political violence, especially when coupled with mental illness.

“It's this boiling up of emotions that would lead a deranged person to do something like what happened this morning,” Delay said.

So what's his solution?  He says the leadership needs to steer the discourse in a more civil direction -- it's okay to attack opposing views without vilifying the opponent. This is from a man who was no stranger to rough and tumble politics.

“I came to understand. It took me a while but I came to understand what it meant to love your enemy,  pray for your enemies, love your neighbor," Delay said.