The national trauma inflicted by the massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School prompted an emotional and fierce national debate on gun control, but the drive this spring for stricter limits led by President Barack Obama fell short in Washington.
By summer, the issue had mostly faded on the political stage. It was replaced by troubling disclosures around national security leaks and U.S. surveillance, violent political turmoil in Egypt, alleged chemical weapons use in Syria, and another looming federal budget showdown.
Then, an armed, 34-year-old former veteran shattered the late summer calm on Monday when he shot up the Washington Navy Yard, killing 12 people before, he, too, died.
Headlines blared, first responders acted heroically, accounts of harrowing escape and sudden death filled the airwaves yet again in the United States. Another mass shooting, said the president, another test of the national psyche.
And, yes, a new call for tougher gun control.
"When will enough be enough?" Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va., said Americas are "becoming far too familiar with senseless, tragic violence" and "these repeated incidents demand our attention."
"Congress needs to act," Rep. Mike Thompson said.
But if the jolt delivered by the Newtown massacre last December in a first grade classroom couldn't serve as a catalyst in Congress for more extensive background checks than why would this latest incident move the debate beyond rhetoric?
Initial indications are it won't even though a dozen people were slaughtered in the shadow of the Capitol.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., is still seeking the five votes needed to pass the expanded background check measure that failed last spring. But he told CNN's Dana Bash he didn't believe the shooting will impact legislation.
But the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence argued the Navy Yard shooting was one more example of the failure of Washington to address the issue.
"While it is too early to know what policies might have prevented this latest tragedy, we do know that policies that present a real opportunity to save lives sit stalled in Congress, policies that could prevent many of the dozens of deaths that result every day from gun violence," Dan Gross, the group's president, said in a statement Monday.
A more restrained response
Obama, who wiped away tears on the day of Newtown, briefly nodded Monday to the seemingly growing trend of such tragedies.
"So we are confronting yet another mass shooting," he said. "And today, it happened on a military installation in our nation's capital."
Asked about the difference in his public reaction, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday the president was "horrified" by the Navy Yard killings.
"While it is a sad truth we in America seem to experience these mass shootings with all too much frequency, they are always horrifying," Carney said, adding that Newtown presented its own particular horror because most of the victims were so young.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., pointed to the Senate background check proposal, but stopped short of re-introducing the legislation.
Rep. Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, believes the Navy Yard shooting will revive the debate, but argued outside groups opposed to any new restrictions make it unlikely that Congress will enact any new laws.
"If the past is prologue that prologue is not very helpful," Hoyer told reporters on Tuesday.
Mark Kelly, husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, released a statement offering support to the victims' families, but did not make any calls for legislative action. However, he made sure to mention the context of the latest killings, saying they workers at the Navy Yard were not killed overseas but in "a mass shooting here at home."
Giffords was severely wounded in a 2011 mass shooting that left six dead and 12 others injured
Dave Kopel, an adjunct professor at the University of Denver's law school, said he doubts the latest shooting will fire up Washington the same way Newtown did.
Until December, Obama had largely stayed away from gun control, so his decision to lay out a series of proposals for the first time certainly fueled the post-Newtown debate, Kopel noted.
"But you can only do that once," he said.