As if the headline, "26 dead in massacre" weren't horrific enough, last Friday's tragedy in Newtown, Conn., is but the latest in a series of shooting sprees across the United States.
Even as the tragedy in Connecticut was unfolding, a 60-year-old Cedar Lake man was allegedly threatening to set his wife on fire after she fell asleep and for threatening to kill "as many people as he could" at nearby Jane Ball Elementary School. He was arrested on a variety of charges.
Schools have tightened security and have reassured parents they're very concerned about children's safety, but there's only so much school officials can do.
President Barack Obama promised the survivors and grieving families in Newtown that the United States would take "meaningful action" following the massacre. "As a country, we have been through this too many times," he said.
Obama is right on this point. The nation cannot continue to let these mass shootings occur without making any attempt to prevent future occurrences.
Gun violence is often associated with drugs and gangs, but it cuts across the entire demographic and geographic spectrum. No community -- urban, suburban or rural -- is immune. As the Newtown horrors showed, even the youngest Americans are not safe from harm.
These continued tragedies should prompt discussion about the causes of this violent behavior and thinking and ways to improve safety.
Some in Congress have called for a national commission following the Newtown tragedy. This approach makes sense.
Gun control must be a part of this conversation.
In 1994, Congress enacted a ban on civilian ownership of military-style assault rifles. That ban expired in 2004. It is time to ban the sale of these weapons again, as well as to discuss whether to allow civilians to purchase high-capacity ammo clips.
Look as well at who should be allowed to sell guns, either privately or through gun shops, and who should not be allowed to own them. It makes sense to require gun owners to report thefts to local police and to require safety training to obtain a concealed carry permit.
The victims of not just the Newtown massacre but other shootings as well deserve action, not just talk.
But legislate thoughtfully, not with a shoot-from-the-hip response. Setting up a national commission, just like after 9/11, is the smart approach. Americans must demand it.