Bob Schieffer took a moment on Sunday's "Face The Nation" to provide his own commentary about the tragedy that struck the picturesque town of Newtown, Conn., last week.
On Friday, a 20-year-old gunman forced his way into Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary school and shot 20 first grade students and 6 adults to death. Before arriving at the school, he shot and killed his mother at the home they shared, and after wreaking havoc in the small school, shot and killed himself.
The small New England town and nation grieved together as horrific details from the massacre unfolded. The media followed the same, tragic script employed after mass shootings past, as a nationwide discussion on gun control and mental health care broke out.
Schieffer focused his comments on gun control and struck a tone similar to Barack Obama, when the president addressed the Newtown community at an interfaith vigil Sunday night.
By now the pros and cons of the gun issue are well known, but here is the question that must be asked: Is what happened Friday the new normal? Of course, there are legitimate reasons - for both pleasure and protection - to own guns. But if the slaughter of innocent children is not bad enough to make us rethink what we can do to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, what is bad enough? To what depths of horror must we sink before we say this cannot be tolerated? Are we willing to settle for a culture in which kindergarten children are no longer safe in the classroom, and a visit to the mall or a movie is a life-threatening experience? In recent years there has been no serious effort to address this problem. No piece of gun legislation was seriously considered during this session of Congress. It is the subject no one wants to talk about for fear of offending the powerful gun lobby. Perhaps it is time to remember what Ed Murrow told us, that 'we are not descended from fearful people.' Our forefathers had the courage to tell the most powerful country of their day, 'You have gone too far, we can tolerate this no more,' and upon their courage America was built. Have we - their descendants - become so afraid of the possible political consequences that we are unwilling to explore ways to make a safer world for our children? I can't believe we have. I think we are better than that.
Obama posed similar questions during his Sunday night speech:
Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children, all of them, safe from harm? ... Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose? I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer’s no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change. Since I’ve been president, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by mass shootings, fourth time we’ve hugged survivors, the fourth time we’ve consoled the families of victims ... Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?