The only way Congress could have prevented the Newtown shootings is if some armed Representatives or Senators were physically present at the school during the incident. Evil is not stopped by legislation alone. The man who attacked Sandy Hook Elementary School did not even need a rifle to commit that atrocity. He could have used a baseball bat or a homemade bomb. He had 20 minutes to do whatever he liked because that is how long it was before police showed up. Instead of asking for new federal laws, the people of Connecticut should discuss how police response times can be improved. For all practical purposes, laws are just suggestions until someone shows up to enforce them.
The man who shot firefighters on Christmas Eve had previously been convicted of killing his own grandmother with a hammer in 1980. As a result, he served a 17 year sentence for manslaughter. Instead of asking for new federal laws, the people of the state of New York should ask if 17 years is a long enough sentence for killing an elderly woman with a hammer.