Give the Newtown Action Alliance credit.
It is doing its utmost to make certain that the effort to stem gun violence in America doesn't fade from the national agenda even during a time of congressional paralysis.
The alliance is a frequent visitor to lawmakers' chambers in Washington, D.C. A delegation from Connecticut was there this week, knocking on doors, delivering letters and spreading the gospel of expanded background checks.
The alliance is also banding together with other activist groups from coast to coast promoting ways to reduce this country's unacceptable level of gun violence — remedies that are consistent with the Second Amendment's right to bear arms.
A nationwide network of activists is the goal, a worthy cause considering Monday's shootings at the Washington Navy Yard in which a gunman killed 12 people before he was shot dead by police. And Friday, 13 were wounded in a mass shooting in Chicago.
Although they account for only a small percentage of gun deaths each year, multiple-fatality shootings seem to be growing in ghastliness — six of the 12 deadliest mass killings in the U.S. have taken place since 2007.
Expanded background checks for gun purchasers to screen out criminals, the mentally ill, terrorists and others who shouldn't have guns is the near-term goal of the Newtown alliance, other activist groups and President Barack Obama. It is reasonable legislation that has the backing of about 80 percent of Americans, including a majority of gun owners.
But that moderate background check proposal failed to draw the 60 votes needed to break a Republican-led filibuster when the U.S. Senate took up the legislation in April, as lobbying by powerful gun manufacturing interests won the day.
This week's trip by nearly 100 members and supporters was the alliance's third from Newtown to Washington to lobby Congress since the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre occurred. They promise to return every three months.
The Connecticut-based grass-roots group was founded in the wake of the shooting nightmare that claimed the lives of 20 first-graders and six female educators at Sandy Hook. Some of the activists have blood ties to some of the victims.
This is not a particularly auspicious time to call on Congress for gun-safety legislation, no matter how much it is needed.
In Colorado earlier this month, two state senators — including the Senate president, who is a former police chief and himself a gun owner — were recalled from office by voters for backing a bill implementing expanded background checks of gun purchasers. The state law still stands, but the recall election sent out a chill felt by any politician who might look kindly on gun control measures.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has admitted, "We don't have the votes" for new gun legislation that would include the overwhelmingly popular expanded background checks. The only thing Congress seemed to have the votes for was a moment of silence for the shooting victims at the Washington Navy Yard.
It is sad, humiliating and unacceptable that all a great nation can do in response to yet another mass murder of innocents on its own soil is grieve.
The Navy Yard massacre by a Navy contractor who apparently had mental problems presents its own set of issues worthy of congressional action: the lack of effectiveness of some background check schemes, the apparent lack of security in some federal installations and the complex issue of mental health screening.
One would think it possible to make improvements in these problem areas without encroaching on the Second Amendment.
But people who want the killing to stop can take hope from groups like the Newtown Action Alliance.
"One day we'll get those 60 votes that we need," says Carlos Soto, 16, brother of one of the Sandy Hook dead. "We're not going anywhere."