The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary school is galvanizing the American conversation in profound and painful ways. From Sonoma County to Washington, D.C., people are asking, pleading, demanding solutions to the horror of mass gun violence.
Yet key figures in the fields of law enforcement, mental health, government, religion and education offer no simple remedies, a reflection of the incendiary political nature of the topic and the complex web of social influences at play.
But, most agree, if anything is going to change in the debate, it will be now.
"We're going to move. It's time," said Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, who is leading a House Democratic task force exploring ways to curtail gun violence in light of the Dec. 14 killings in Newtown, Conn. He met with colleagues Friday in early discussions.
Authorities said Adam Lanza, 20, shot his mother four times in the head as she slept before he drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 20 children and six staff members with a high-powered rifle, committing suicide as police closed in.
The second-deadliest school shooting in the country's history has sparked heated debate on gun control, personal freedom and responsibility, mental health issues and school safety.
President Barack Obama tapped Vice President Joe Biden to oversee an administration-wide review that will consider gun-control legislation and ways to keep society from glamorizing guns and violence.
On Friday in Washington, the politically powerful National Rifle Association called for creation of a model security plan for schools that relies on armed volunteers.
"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," said the group's spokesman, Wayne LaPierre. He blamed video games, movies and music videos for exposing children to a violent culture.
Thompson, a veteran and hunter, has allegiances to both sides of the debate about regulating firearms.