Federal Assassination Law
The shooting of Judge Roll and Congresswoman Giffords raises an interesting point about federal jurisdiction. It seems obvious that this attack would be a federal crime, but that is a recent development. Until the 1960s, the assassination of a federal official was treated as ordinary state-law murder unless it happened in Washington DC or in a federal territory. The most famous example is Lee Harvey Oswald. Killing the President in Texas was not a federal offense in 1963, just as it wasn’t in 1901 when Leon Czolgolz shot William McKinley in Buffalo and was convicted of murder in New York. Indeed, this is why Oswald was being held in the local Dallas jail that made it so easy for Jack Ruby to do what he did.