The burials of the Sandy Hook School children have begun, and the heartbreak of their parents and the community is palpable. I myself am devastated by what happened, by the deaths of those innocent little kids and their brave teachers. This tragedy demonstrates one certainty about American life: the need for better gun control.
The past six years have seen five of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history -- a trend Obama cited when he observed that this was the fourth time he had spoken to relatives following a massacre. This cannot be unrelated to the fact that Americans own more guns than any other nation: in 2009 there were 310 million non-military firearms in the United States, and that's in a country with 314 million citizens. In several states, military grade assault rifles can be purchased at supermarket stores.
One argument says that with so many weapons already in circulation gun control may be futile. But that is just not good enough. Surely the least we can do in the wake of this calamity is work to stop the further proliferation in society of guns and military-style weapons.
The question of how to prevent mass killings is complex and far-reaching, and gun control alone is unlikely to provide the answer; the US must also reflect on how it supports and treats citizens who struggle with mental health conditions. However, I do believe that restricting access to guns must be a central part of the response to the events of last Friday.
We grieve, this week, with the families in Newtown. Let's do what we can to ensure others do not have to endure such sadness. Let's take a stand and urge the U.S. government to truly protect its citizens, by bringing in strong and effective laws on guns.