If you are unaware, Republican members and lawmakers of the United States were recently the target of a mass shooting in Alexandria, Virginia. It seems that the gunman's target was specifically their political affiliation: he was hoping to kill Republicans.

I find myself noting this as a very strange event, despite the uneasy reality that mass shootings are nearly a monthly event now. Mass murderers of the past seem to have targeted by race, sexual orientation, religion, or government in general (e.g. Timothy McVeigh). There have been, of course, just plain old crazy mass killings with no particular target.

Is this the first time in U.S. history that a mass shooting/killing targeted political affiliation? I would suspect that some of this happened during the Civil War, but that was a war, a very different thing. So outside of military organized action, has there ever been a mass shooting/killing in the United States that targeted a political party?

  • 1
    How does this qualify as a 'mass killing'?
    – justCal
    Jun 15, 2017 at 2:30
  • 3
    Perhaps before the Civil War, in the Bleeding Kansas period?
    – bof
    Jun 15, 2017 at 5:39
  • 2
    There were several incidents during the Bleeding Kansas period when people were killed for being pro-slavery or anti-slavery, i.e., Democrat or Republican. For instance John Brown's Pottawatomie Massacre. I guess this particular incident doesn't count, since you changed "killing" to "shooting"; Brown's men used swords.
    – bof
    Jun 15, 2017 at 9:13
  • 2
    Not only wasn't this the first political party mass shooting, it wasn't the first one this decade. Not that anyone should be surprised. It wasn't even the only mass shooting yesterday. We averaged slightly over 1 a day last year, and have had more already than we had at this time last year. With those sheer numbers, just about every motivation imaginable must be hit on eventually.
    – T.E.D.
    Jun 15, 2017 at 14:07
  • 2
    Also, without shootings, the 1919 campaign of anarchist bombings and (if we use the "political affiliation" instead of "political party" criteria) the violence against Civil Rights movement in the 60s, more specifically the murder of three activists in Mississippi
    – SJuan76
    Jun 15, 2017 at 16:29

2 Answers 2


An earlier mass killing against a political affiliation is the Coushatta massacre in 1874. Members of the White League, a white supremacist organisation composed of white Southern Democrats, assassinated six white Republicans and five to 20 freedmen who were witnesses. Their goal was to overturn Republican rule and install Democrats in their place.

  • Wow! That definitely fits. I'm surprised there wasn't retaliation. And I thought these were scary times now.
    – user1973
    Jun 15, 2017 at 6:46

The 2011 Tucson shooting also seems to be such a case. The shooting took place at a constituent meeting held by Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords. While the shooter was insane his specific form of insanity included some sort of political mania.

  • 7
    Upvoted (because it was the first thing that entered my head). But this really needs to be expanded to be a proper answer.
    – T.E.D.
    Jun 15, 2017 at 13:51

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