A potential opening
Sen. Richard Blumenthal -- D-Conn. -- said he believes the Navy Yard shooting makes a case for a stronger push on mental health.
The shooter, Aaron Alexis, had recently made contact with two Veterans Administration hospitals for apparent psychological issues and had exhibited signs of mental problems, CNN has learned. His father said he suffered from post traumatic stress after working in 9/11 rescue efforts.
"Let us make mental health initiative a centerpiece of this renewal and reinvigoration of our effort to stop gun violence. Let us combine it with background checks and other commonsense measures," Blumenthal said on the Senate floor.
Manchin agreed a mental health component could help nudge gun violence legislation forward.
"I'll support anything I can to rehabilitate people but also making sure people who are not rehabilitated should not be able to--because of their past and their record--not be able to purchase a gun," he told reporters Tuesday on Capitol Hill.
Rev. Kenneth Blanchard, a Christian pastor and gun rights activist, encouraged a societal change on mental health issues rather than a "microwave change" through gun control.
"We failed him somewhere. Everybody around him failed. Nobody wants to put the finger on ourselves, but it's us. We're our own worst enemies," he said.
Other factors at play
The powerful National Rifle Association has not weighed in on the latest shooting, but the organization tends to wait a short period of time after an incident before commenting.
It's entirely plausible that the tone of the debate remains less-than-fiery as the country still processes the events that took place Monday.
But there may also be an elephant in the room.
Last week, two state senators in Colorado were booted out of office after voting in favor of the state's new gun control laws.
The Navy Yard shooting represents the first national test of whether the recalls might have an impact on how Washington lawmakers react to the gun control, especially with the entire House and a third of the Senate facing re-election next year.
"(The recalls) suggest to a lot of swing elected officials, who maybe don't have deep convictions one way or the other on the gun issue, that banning arms as some sort of symbolic reaction to a crime by a mentally ill evildoer is not as politically popular," said Kopel, who also works as a research director of the Independence Institute, a conservative think tank in Colorado.
The most recent polling, however, indicates just over half of Americans nationwide think gun control laws should be stricter. According to a CBS/New York Times Poll from early June, 51 percent of Americans favor stricter regulations, while 47 percent prefer laws are kept as they are or become less strict.
Numbers in favor of tighter gun laws have dropped since the days following the Sandy Hook shooting.
Mark Glaze, director of the Michael Bloomberg-backed group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, thinks the Navy Yard shooting will have an impact on the larger debate, even if the effects aren't immediate.
"It is the Chinese water torture of a series of mass shootings that are happening more rapidly and are growing more deadly," he said.
His group will hold a previously scheduled rally Thursday on Capitol Hill, with protests specifically aimed at senators who voted against the background check proposal.