Three days after Aaron Alexis walked into the Washington Navy Yard and randomly shot and killed 12 people, a congressional push for tougher gun laws still seems unlikely to materialize like it did following the Newtown school massacre.
But as more details emerge of the Alexis' troubled past, lawmakers appear to be reframing the debate over gun violence, this time with emphasis on better treatment for mental health.
The exasperated gun control debate takes a turn
After the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school and a Colorado movie theater massacre the previous July that resulted in an insanity plea by the shooter, lawmakers and advocates on both sides of the gun debate called for improved mental health services.
But those calls were drowned out by the more emotional and better-funded debate over gun control.
Now, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire, wants to re-introduce a mental health measure that had overwhelming support across party lines earlier this year.
Co-authored by Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, the legislation calls for more training and familiarity with services in schools and communities.
The measure was added as an amendment to the broader gun control package in the Senate earlier this year, and while the chamber approved Ayotte's amendment by a wide margin, 95-2, the overall package failed. The mental health legislation went nowhere.
Now she's trying to bring it back without attaching it to gun control bills.
"I actually think it can be taken up separately and easily passed," she said on CNN, pointing to the strong support the measure received in April. "Very little gets 90 votes around here."
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, also suggested a mental health bill can stand alone.
"I think we ought to move," Schiff said on MSNBC. "The gun issue has been so difficult. I think we ought to try to move forward with whatever pieces we can."
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, said he still favors legislation for enhanced background checks but believes the mental health initiative should be the "centerpiece" in any new effort to stop gun violence.
Dampening the hope of gun control advocates, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters in the aftermath of this week's Navy Yard slaughter that the votes aren't there to bring back the failed gun control legislation.
Pressed on whether he'd consider a narrower version that strictly focuses on mental health, Reid simply said he "would hope it would have the votes."
"And I would be willing to do that," he continued. "Anything we can do to focus attention on these senseless killings that take place."
Mental health as common ground
The most avid control advocates are still poised to push ahead with their agenda.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns held a rally Thursday on Capitol Hill --- an event scheduled before Monday's shooting --- to keep pressure on lawmakers over expanded background checks.
But as the investigation of Alexis continues, the conversation is largely focused on red flags from his history that were seemingly overlooked.
Alexis had recently made contact with two Department of Veterans Affairs 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.
Alexis, who was shot dead by police, was also arrested repeatedly for alarming offenses. He left the Navy after eight instances of misconduct, Navy officials said.
Gun rights activists have fervently maintained gun violence stems from the deranged minds of individuals, and new gun restrictions won't do anything to curb the killings.
The National Rifle Association has long been supportive of laws that keep guns out of the hands of those deemed mentally incompetent.