Many questions remain 31 days after a school massacre in Newtown, Conn., shocked the nation. But what's clear is that the pain remains powerfully visible throughout the community. And the force of that anguish is loud enough to echo throughout Washington's halls of power.
As authorities investigate why 20-year-old Adam Lanza gunned down 27 people, including 20 children, there's no clear consensus in Newtown about how to move forward. But many residents are calling for stricter gun control, including a ban on so-called assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, used in many mass shootings.
Newtown police Chief Michael Kehoe told NBC that he favors a ban on assault weapons and restrictions on high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Emotions remain raw. "There is still a lot of pain, a lot of grief," said Rick Scinto, a deacon at St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, which lost nine of its youngest members at Sandy Hook Elementary School. He acknowledged that the pain "might not ever go away."
Down the street from the school, at a place where a makeshift memorial once stood, a bouquet now marks the spot.
The memorial has been dismantled, composted and preserved for a permanent memorial.
Hanging from an overpass, a huge banner filled with signatures reads, "We are with you, Newtown." The banner is a gift from Tucson, Ariz., where a mass shooting two years ago killed six people and seriously wounded then-Rep. Gabby Giffords.
Sandy Hook students returned to class this month in the nearby town of Monroe, at Chalk Hill Middle School, while investigators comb the crime scene.
Chalk Hill has been outfitted with rugs and furniture that would be familiar and comforting to Sandy Hook students. Security measures have also been increased, with more cameras and locks.
What will Newtown do with the school itself? Some have proposed tearing down the scene of the unspeakable crime and transforming it into something positive.
"I don't want to see the land and the building stay empty and broken," one parent said during a town hall meeting Sunday night. "I want to do something with it, whether it be a memorial park" or "a new safer school with top security."
The tragedy is so profound that recent polling suggests it may have shifted public opinion and re-energized discussions about how far the Second Amendment should extend.
The family of 6-year-old victim Noah Pozner has contacted the White House to discuss gun laws and potential reforms.
In Washington, the Newtown tragedy has largely set a new tone -- and triggered a new battle.
The nation's largest gun lobby is gearing up for one of its most potent challenges in years. "We are mobilizing for a fight," said National Rifle Association President David Keene.
A federal task force led by Vice President Joe Biden -- which met with the NRA, gun control advocates and numerous other groups -- is set to deliver recommendations to President Barack Obama on Tuesday.
Obama openly shed tears in the shootings' aftermath and has vowed to make curbing gun violence a "central issue" at the start of his second term.
"There is no single answer," said Biden, who in 1994 helped pass an assault weapons ban that expired a decade later.
Biden has publicly mentioned homing in on things like universal background checks and reviews of mental health policies as part of his possible recommendations to decrease gun-related deaths.
'Criminals and madmen'
But Keene said his meeting last week with the vice president left him "disappointed," with little perceived ground for compromise.
"We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen," the NRA said in a statement after the meeting.
The group is preparing a new ad campaign to fend off certain gun regulations.
Governors in states like Connecticut, New York and Colorado have called for tighter restrictions and extensive background checks during firearms sales. Other states like Alaska, Arizona and Montana have sought to pass legislation that would exempt them from stricter federal regulations.
"The gun issue will be prominent in a lot of states," said Bill Pound, executive director of the National Conference of State Legislatures. "Whether there will be action taken is another question. If experience is any guide, there will be far more bills introduced than enacted."