And while Republican officeholders have not yet shown the same willingness to reconsider their death grip on "Second Amendment issues," prominent conservatives like Joe Scarborough give reason to hope that sanity may yet prevail on the issue. Scarborough was a four-term congressman from Florida who earned the highest marks from the NRA while in Congress. But, he wrote in Politico on Monday, echoing comments he made on his show that morning, "Friday changed everything. It must change everything. We all must begin anew and demand that Washington's old way of doing business is no longer acceptable."
And in his statements since the tragedy Obama has talked not just about gun control but about access to mental healthcare, the issue of violence in our culture, and the fact that any solution begins "inside the home and inside our hearts." This suggests the kind of balanced approach that will appeal to common sense moderates and make it hard for the gun lobby to paint him as a knee jerk liberal trying to round up hunting rifles.
Second, and more personal to Obama, the potential exists for Newtown to shape the president's second term in a way similar to how 9/11 shaped Bush's presidency. It may not define Obama's next four years in office the way 9/11 defined Bush's tenure, but there could be a similarity in terms of it being an issue that, in a terrible instant, goes from being hardly on the president's radar to the top of his agenda.
We can hope that it will. We can hope that the president will match his actions to his words. And we can act to help him.
We must, because they're burying children in Connecticut.