At the beginning of the first Senate hearing on the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) instructed those in the hearing room to stand if they had been affected by gun violence. As nearly everyone in the packed hearing room, including several Senators, stood in silence, the powerful tone was set for the debate over what to do next.
For several months, I have attended every event and hearing on Capitol Hill regarding the Senate's response to the Newtown shootings. I saw the father of a slain first grader whose uncontrollable sobbing at a Judiciary Committee hearing left everyone in the room quiet and still. I witnessed testimony from a doctor who struggled to retell the story of removing bullets from the heads of five-year-olds. And I saw incredible passion and a sense of purpose from both sides of the aisle.