One mass killing is one too many. We have seen far too many in any one of our lifetimes. The Aurora, Colorado tragedy is still fresh in our minds and it could have been surpassed by the Oregon mall shootings were it not for the perpetrator’s weapon jamming.

Today, Monday, December 17, 2012 we are all still trying to come to grips with yet another mass killing; this one took the lives of twenty of our nation’s most valuable treasures, our young children. The youngest was five and the oldest was seven. Losing any one of these beautiful young people would have been tragic regardless of the reason; to have lost so many in such a senseless and incomprehensible way is grotesque. Add to the loss of these young people the adults who had committed their lives to the education, well-being, and moral compass of all young people and this catastrophe takes on even greater significance. We may yet find an accurate connection between the perpetrator and the school, one of the families, or one of the faculty members but as it stands, the senselessness of this brutality is compounded by the lack of any apparent motive or connection.

We have put off for too long the dialogue we must have as we begin trying to make certain that the survivors of those lost know that our support and love is with each and every one of them. This isn’t a time for the extremist, those who oppose all firearms on the one hand and those who believe that even the most reasonable and responsible regulations are in absolute derogation of their second amendment rights, to control the dialogue. Few could argue that the solution is to ban all firearms or to even ban most firearms. Few could argue that the second amendment, as valuable and important a part of our freedom as any other provision of our Bill of Rights, is so sweeping and sacrosanct that any regulation is an overreaching infringement on our rights. Rather, it is the time for reasonable people to identify their common objectives and to work through their differences to achieve those objectives.

It is also important to note that this is not just a second amendment or gun ownership issue. Events like this were so rare when I was growing up that it was easy to see that in one given instance there was a breakdown. It may have been at the family level, the school level, or at some other social level. Now these events occur more frequently and while family, school, and society are factors, the increase in this senseless violence must cause all of us to reevaluate our roles in our own families and our own environments. Each of us can clearly do a better job in our lives and that includes using our best efforts to be a positive influence for all those around us; it also includes facing the issues and not side-stepping reality. Time is critical and the issues are essential. Each of us will hopefully find a way to participate in searching for a solution.

I will keep the people who are living through this tragedy, the surviving parents, siblings, spouses, and other family members as well as the young children and adults who lived this tragedy firsthand, in my thoughts and prayers and ask that they be blessed with the strength and courage they will need to both accept that those they lost are serving a greater purpose and to know that as a nation we just may be able to take the destruction of this tragedy and build a better way.