There's more passion behind the prospect of new gun-control legislation than advocates have seen in a decade -- but rounding up the votes will be hard.
It happens after every mass shooting: Americans get momentarily passionate about gun control; the National Rifle Association lies low and waits for the storm to pass; and within a few months, the people and politicians have moved on to something else.
Will this time be any different?
Gun-control advocates believe it will. The massacre Friday in Newtown, Connecticut, has prompted an outpouring not just of grief but of rage, and it's been disproportionately directed at gun policy with an intensity and focus not seen in the wake of past tragedies.
There's a sense that a tipping point has been reached in public opinion, but gun-control advocates still don't have the votes in Congress.
But the question for advocates, as yet unanswered, is whether that passion is broad and lasting enough to turn into legislation. Thus far, the only lawmakers prompted to speak out for the first time on the issue have been pro-gun Democrats. And while the new willingness of Senators Joe Manchin and Mark Warner to challenge their erstwhile allies in the gun lobby is notable, it's Republican members of Congress that will have to move to get gun-control legislation passed. If you're hearing a mix of optimism and anxiety out of gun-control proponents, this is why: There's a sense that a tipping point has been reached in public opinion, but they still don't have the votes in Congress.