Wednesday’s shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) at a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Va., joins a series of other incidents in which more than a dozen federal lawmakers have been killed or wounded by gunfire.
The most recent previous attack occurred in January 2011, when then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, was shot in the head during an outdoor town hall meeting in a supermarket parking lot in her state. Giffords, who went on to co-found a gun violence prevention group while struggling with partial paralysis and other after-effects, expressed her condolences on Twitter for Wednesday’s shooting.
“My heart is with my former colleagues, their families [and] staff, and the US Capitol Police — public servants and heroes today and every day,” she wrote.
Giffords’ shooter, Jared Loughner, is serving seven life terms plus 140 years in prison without the possibility of parole.
In one of the most politically traumatic shootings in modern American history, then-New York Sen. Robert Kennedy was assassinated in June 1968 while campaigning for the Democratic nomination for president in Los Angeles. His assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, is serving a life sentence in state prison in California.
Louisiana Sen. Huey Long was shot and killed after a physician named Carl Weiss opened fire on him in the Louisiana State Capitol in 1935. The exact circumstances of the Democratic politician’s death remain a mystery, with one theory suggesting that his bodyguards accidentally shot him as they aimed at Weiss.
The only House lawmaker to be assassinated in office is Democratic California Rep. Leo Ryan, who in 1978 was one of five people killed by members of Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple cult on an airstrip in Guyana. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who was then an aide to Ryan, was shot five times and waited almost 24 hours before help arrived.
Nine other sitting members of Congress have been wounded or killed in shootings.
In January 1973, Sen. John Stennis (D-Miss.) was exiting his car outside his home in Washington when two young men approached him and demanded money, according to police. After taking his wallet, his watch and other valuables, they shot him twice. Stennis recovered and continued to serve in the Senate for another 16 years.
The shooting involving the most lawmakers occurred in the Capitol Building in March 1954, when Puerto Rican nationalists stormed into the House gallery and shot Reps. Alvin Bentley (R-Mich.), George Fallon (D-Md.), Kenneth Roberts (D-Ala.), Clifford Davis (D-Tenn.) and Ben Jensen (R-Iowa). According to the New York Times, the shooters “shouted for the freedom of their homeland” as they fired. All five congressmen survived.
The Capitol itself has been a high-profile target for decades, and it featured relatively lax security until the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In 1998, a man walked into the Capitol and shot and killed two Capitol Police officers. No lawmakers were injured, but the man made it to the office of then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas) before an officer shot him.
Democratic Texas Rep. John Pinckney and his brother were shot and killed in April 1905 when a riot broke out at an event in Hempstead, Texas. In July 1869, Republican Alabama Rep. Thomas Haughey got into an argument with a man who shot him; he died five days later. And in October 1868, a member of the Ku Klux Klan shot and killed Rep. James Hinds (R-Ark.).