We can no longer do nothing about the slaughter
We cannot adequately express the horror we feel about the unthinkable massacre in Connecticut, the loss of so many innocent lives, the grief of the families and the scars of confusion and anger many will carry for life.
Once again America faces complex problems involving constitutional freedoms, guns, school safety, mental-health issues and violence portrayed as entertainment. None have easy solutions.
But if the Connecticut mass murders cannot unite America to make something happen, nothing ever will.
Quite appropriately, politicians will again attempt to take some preventive action. But too often "political realties" dictate that nothing happens after discussions about gun policy, entertainment freedoms and mental illness.
This time will be different. This carnage makes earlier atrocities pale in comparison — because of the scale; the children slaughtered; the inexplicable extent of the violence.
Pro-gun and anti-gun factions are unified in their revulsion about what just happened. A majority believes that to do nothing is simply wrong.
Americans must unite to address several realities. These slaughters involve deranged individuals with easy access to weapons beyond what's reasonable for self-defense. And we've taken "entertainment" to a place where those with sick minds can be persuaded to translate their darkest impulses into acts of unspeakable violence.
Perhaps it's true that our culture is screwed up, that mental illness is the real culprit and that evil never be eliminated. But still we must find common ground for dealing with military assault weapons, the mentally disturbed and extremely violent video games, movies and TV shows.
Self-defense does not require heavy body armor and military assault weapons with clips with hundreds of bullets fired at five rounds per second.
The responsibilities that accompany freedom of expression should reject vivid depictions of the sickest impulses of rapists and serial killers in movies and TV shows.
We don't need mind-altering video games where we arm the "hero" with automatic weapons — roaming through the streets shooting everything, including police officers — feeling a rush of success en route.
Dealing with these will not end mass murders. But perhaps we can reduce future violence, if only slightly, without endangering constitutional rights.
Some will argue that we actually need more guns — arming school guards and teachers. This is not the answer! Deranged killers will find ways to remove such obstacles — or will chose other public places — malls, libraries, train stations, theaters or stadiums — for their carnage.
Dealing with the rights of the mentally ill is far more challenging. Thousands of confused, delusional minds are filled with hatred and desensitized to reality. Many are medicated. Others are not or don't take their meds. Some are never discovered until too late.
Even if none were able to purchase guns and ammo, we cannot prevent them from accessing weapons of others, nor block them from "entertainment" that might provoke unspeakable evils.
The task ahead is enormous and complex. There are 310 million personally owned firearms and 5,000 licensed firearms manufacturers in America today. Our access to guns is the most liberal in the world.
We cannot deny related facts. Our annual murder rate of 16,000, three-fourths gun-related, translates to the world's highest per capita. Our freedom of speech is being abused by entertainment producers who vividly portray unthinkable violence for no constructive reason.
It's clearly time for a national debate on these subjects. We must thoughtfully examine our freedoms in the light of today's realities, considering changes that might effectively reduce mass violence. In the process we must protect our rights to free speech, assembly and self-defense, and avoid unnecessary government intervention. A challenge indeed!
It's true that thousands of laws already regulate the purchase and use of guns in America. It's possible that additional regulations will have little effect on multiple-victim crimes. But we cannot do nothing about military assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, which are not needed for hunting or self-defense.
This will not be without controversy. Half of Americans favor more gun control, while half believe protecting gun ownership is more important. So we have another issue deeply dividing our nation.
But it's time to do something.