The National Rifle Association broke a four-day-long silence after Friday's massacre in Newtown, Conn., while students returned to schools Tuesday and marked the beginning of a new reality.
The NRA announced in its press release it is planning a "major press conference" in the Washington, D.C., area on Friday and pledged the group is "prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again."
In Newtown, students at schools other than Sandy Hook Elementary are seeing more police and counselors, and teachers who face a new, tremendous burden.
Classes would discuss the tragedy in an age-appropriate manner, the teachers' union said.
But the young children of Sandy Hook aren't resuming school yet. And when they do, it will be in a different building.
Their school is a crime scene, the site where 20 kids and six faculty members were gunned down.
Growing debate over gun laws
What happened in Newtown should never happen again, advocates on both sides of the gun-control debate agree. But they're at staunch odds about how to turn words into reality.
The National Rifle Association commented Tuesday for the first time since the shooting, saying it was shocked and heartbroken by what happened. The group is planning to hold a news conference on Friday.
"Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting," it said.
The grassroots group Newtown United sent a delegation to Washington on Tuesday to meet with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence as well as families from July's movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado.
The new group, which formed out of Newtown on Sunday, aims to create meaningful dialogue -- both locally and beyond -- about what may have led to the tragedy.
Two national polls conducted shortly after the Newtown shootings suggest that more Americans want stricter gun control.
In a Washington Post/ABC News poll, 54% of adults favor stricter gun control laws in the country, while 43% oppose.
And a new CBS News poll indicates that 57% of Americans back stricter gun laws, the highest percentage in a decade; 30% think gun laws should be kept as they are.
However, less than half of the respondents in the CBS poll -- 42% -- think stricter gun laws would have helped prevent the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia and a "proud gun owner," said he's now committed to "dialogue that would bring a total change" after the massacre in Newtown.
"Who would have ever thought, in America or anywhere in the world, that children would be slaughtered?" he asked. "It's changed me."
The debate is playing out not just in Newtown and Washington, but across the United States.
John Licata told CNN's iReport there needs to be better vetting before people buy guns, and assault weapons should be banned -- something Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, says she'll propose once the new Congress convenes in January.
But some say the shooting illustrates the need for more armed guards -- and possibly armed teachers -- in schools.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that if school districts decide that arming teachers is the best way to keep schools safe, so be it.
If Texas residents are duly background-checked, trained and have a concealed handgun license, "you should be able to carry your handgun anywhere in the state," Perry said, according to CNN affiliate WFAA.
Gun owner Jameson Riley of Colorado said recent mass shootings have made him consider getting a concealed-weapon permit.
"I have a 2-year-old daughter, and she is the light of my life," Riley said. "And I would like to protect her."