In the campaign ad, Manchin, touting his National Rifle Association endorsement, shot a bullet at the "cap and trade bill" as a symbolic rejection of the energy legislation being discussed by Democrats.
Gun imagery is no novelty in American politics and many politicians, both Republicans and Democrats alike, are avid supporters of gun rights.
Even Giffords supported relatively relaxed gun control laws and posted pictures on her page showing her shooting.
But the recent tragedy may lead to politicians' tempering their tones, especially as they gear up for the 2012 election cycle.
Already, congressional leaders -- many of whom have resorted to screaming on the House floor in recent years -- have demonstrated a sense of bipartisanship on security issues that hasn't been seen in a long time.
"I do think that we need to cut back our rhetoric. We need to talk about our issues positively," Brady said. "We need to cut back our rhetoric in Congress as we debate back and forth. We can absolutely positively disagree without being totally disagreeable and totally negative toward each other."
Experts are doubtful this sense of decorum will last.
"After 9/11, unity lasted a year," Sabato said. "That faded, too, because there was an election campaign and election campaigns always lead to rhetorical excesses."