Gun control advocates were already planning to canvass Capitol Hill Tuesday when a gunman shot and killed 12 people Monday at the Navy Yard in Washington, just miles away.
Families came from Newtown, Conn., the site of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting that left 20 first graders dead. More than 40 meetings were scheduled on the hill this week and Mayors Against Illegal Guns had already planned a public demonstration outside the Capitol for Thursday.
Now, their lobbying efforts collide with a deadly massacre in lawmakers' own backyards.
Tuesday, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters during breakfast that the Navy Yard shooting would bring the gun debate back to Congress, but he couldn't promise anything would come from the renewed tragedy.
"I lost three constituents," Hoyer said. "I am sure it will renew the discussions about access to weapons that can be used to kill a lot of people quickly."
But Hoyer pointed out that politically, lawmakers still don't have the cover they need to stick out their necks on the issue, alluding to the special elections in Colorado last week when two state lawmakers who voted to pass stricter background checks lost their seats in a recall election.
"It does not bode well for asking people to vote for legislation," Hoyer said.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who led the bipartisan charge to pass a bill to expand background checks in the Senate, told CNN that he didn't feel confident Monday that the politics surrounding gun control had evolved enough to pass his bill now.
Some, however, like Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who is all too familiar with gun violence, asked "when will enough be enough?"
When she was the head of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Feinstein discovered Harvey Milk's body and put her finger in the bullet hole to check for a pulse.
"Congress must stop shirking its responsibility and resume a thoughtful debate on gun violence in this country," she said in a released statement.