WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - Nine members of Congress and senators are protected by traveling Capitol Police bodyguards. The rest are on their own.
Security details are reserved for the most high profile top leaders including the Speaker of the House, the majority and minority leaders of both parties in both houses, and the party whips who serve directly under the leaders.
Rep. Steve Scalise is the Republican whip in the House of Representatives, which is why two Capitol Police officers where on hand to shoot back at the attacker who assaulted a morning congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, Wednesday.
Senator Susan Collins spoke to an audience who knows gun violence too well: families of those killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre.
"The events today are absolutely tragic,” she said.
But Collins said more security might be too secure. Only a handful of high-ranking lawmakers get Capitol Police details, that’s why officers were on hand Wednesday in Alexandria.
“What I don't want to do is put an unnecessary barrier between the public and those of us who serve,” Collins said.
The Capitol Complex is secured by a heavy presence of Capitol Police who are frequently armed with assault rifles. But once members leave the area, security is up to individual members who may employ security and bodyguard staff if they wish.
There are reports that congressmen are now getting new threats that said, "democrats are next."
They were about to practice for Thursday's charity game at another field in Northeast D.C. when they first heard about the shooting.
“We felt kind of helpless to help them. We went into our dug out and huddled up and just started staying prayers for them, that they'd be okay and that nobody would be hurt seriously,” said Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Penn).
At least two members are on record saying they carry guns when traveling in their home districts. They are Rep. David Reichert (R) Washington, who is a former sheriff, and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R) Utah.
Supreme Court justices also are not formally protected when away from the Supreme Court complex either.
In 2012, Justice Stephen Breyer was robbed by a machete-wielding man while visiting a vacation home on the Caribbean island of Nevis. No security was present.
Capitol Police also provide security for members who have received specific threats. Frequently, local police in a member's home district will provide police presence at town halls and other events.
Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania hopes these are freak events. He admits the thought of more security is new.
“I'd hate that we need something to separate us from the people we represent,” Sen. Toomey said. “But on the other hand, there are obviously dangers so it's worth thinking about.”
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