Across the Nation

In this Jan. 30, 2013 file photo, former former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who survived a gunshot to the head in 2011, during a mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz., sits ready with her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington to discuss legislation to curb gun violence after the death of 20 schoolchildren in the shooting rampage late last year in Newtown, Conn. Giffords told the committee that Congress must reform the nation's gun laws, and Kelly got into a terse discussion at the witness table with National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Victims of tragedy long have played major roles in the nation’s most dramatic public policy debates, and there are few more bitter, or expensive than this year’s legislative battle over gun control

Theresa Hoover (back right) and other family members of Aurora shooting victims wipe away tears during a press conference Dec. 21 at the Colorado State Capitol. State lawmakers and victims of the Aurora theater shooting called for tougher gun control Friday.  (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)

“It’s too easy for criminals to get access to dangerous weapons. We need to do something about that,” said Fields, whose son and his fiancee were gunned down in 2005.

A note, flowers, and other items were left for the victims of last week's deadly shootings at a Connecticut elementary school, at a permanent memorial for those lost in the shootings at Columbine High School, in Littleton, Colo., Monday Dec. 17, 2012. Columbine and other sites of mass shootings have been rebuilt by residents determined to reclaim public places invaded by gunmen. Deciding what to do with the scene of a tragic event often determines how a community will heal. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

As Newtown, Conn., grieves the deadly mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, victims’ families and residents will eventually have to decide what to do with the building and how to memorialize the fallen.