During this season of giving which represents the gift of life, just a few days before Christmas, no doubt most parents had shopped for Christmas gifts for children who are now no longer with them. You can imagine the pain they felt upon learning their children’s gift of life had been taken away by a disturbed gunman.

Adding to that tragedy was the revelation that a dedicated principal, four of her heroic teachers and a school’s psychologist, all representing the finest in America, had also lost their lives.

You would have thought a massacre like this could occur only on streets in rough neighborhoods or by missiles in a full-blown war. Wrong. It took place in Sandy Hook Elementary, located in a peaceful community, where children were being educated to grow to their fullest potential, becoming productive citizens and leaders of this country.

Among these children, there might have been a future scientist who would have discovered a cure for cancer or a leader endowed with the ability to form a more perfect union in America. There might have been a peace maker with leadership ability to work among world leaders restoring some semblance of peace. There may have been a spiritual leader who was blessed with the ability to help mankind to understand that every man, woman, boy or girl, regardless of race, status or gender, is a human being, made in the image of God. This would have allowed for closing the gap of division and resolving differences without violence and guns.

Twenty children are gone, adding to the total of those who have been killed in schools, colleges and on city streets by individuals with high-powered guns. We can only imagine the physiological damage done to those who witnessed these bloody attacks and to children who watch the sad stories on the news.

What about other attacks on children, those being killed, kidnapped, molested, neglected and rejected by their own parents and other adults? If intervention does not take place, these children will live in fear, losing hope and trust in adults, producing more troubled and disturbed young people who have no regard for human life.

We must face the reality that children are 100 percent of our future leaders and work force. It’s our responsibility to find better ways to protect their safety. Working on that solution should be an immediate national priority, starting at the federal government level, trickling down to action by “We the People.”

It is hoped we’ll never see, another massacre of children like what happened in Newtown, Conn. I humbly ask, is the blood stain of these defenseless children on our hands?

If we did nothing in the past or plan to do nothing in the future to help keep guns out of places and hands where they don’t belong, the blood stain will remain on our hands.

Morrell Roper, of Merrillville, is an advocate for children. The opinion expressed in this column is the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.

Politics/History Editor Doug Ross, an award-winning writer, has been covering Northwest Indiana for more than 35 years, including more than a quarter of a century at The Times.