What's amazing about the tragedy in Connecticut today is how little we do to prevent things like it from occurring. The American people, the putative leaders of a democratically elected government, see shooting after shooting play out -- in movie theaters, shopping malls, elementary schools -- and get saddened or outraged until our emotions dissipate. This is why opponents of gun control insist that the time is never right to discuss gun violence. When we're angry, when our passion is tangible, literally can be tasted on our tongues, the condescending demand is to wait. To calm down. Let that anger dissipate, so nothing is done. Fury is a powerful motivator but a fleeting one. And once it fades, those who righteously or cynically want to continue America's gun culture exhale and move forward.
The bias among elected officials is toward two things: inertia and capitalism, to do nothing unless money is at stake. Doing something carries risk; changing the status quo means that some people will be forced to change their behavior. This is why it's much easier to pass legislation affecting the poor and dispossessed -- they have less power to exercise. What tips that balance is when politicians see a coming surge of opposition or have a groundswell of support they can leverage. Popular movements of those outside the established power structure are rare because they are hard and they are incremental and they are easily defused or redirected.
The most recent popular movement seeking to upend the entrenched power structure was Occupy Wall Street. It surged forward, but fell apart for a variety of reasons: the onset of winter, a lack of direction, and the progressive obsession on derived consensus. It also fell apart because the powerful sapped the rage of the protestors, redirected it for other purposes or flowed with it to build credentials. In the end, all that was left were the endlessly furious, the mad. Occupy was the closest we've come to reshaping a more egalitarian society, and it didn't come close at all.