12/17/2012 01:14 pm ET Updated Feb 16, 2013

For the Rest of Us, the Heavy Lifting

In the early summer of 1989, days after my girlfriend Rebecca Schaeffer was murdered on her doorstep by a cowardly nineteen-year-old wielding a .357 Magnum and vague notions of fame, a horrible question was posed to Rebecca's parents -- whether they wished to pursue a civil suit against the gun store owner who had sold the weapon in the first place. Remarkably, Rebecca's young assailant had entered the store with his older brother, openly perused the guns on display, and then, smack in front of the salesman, pointed out his weapon of choice, which his older brother proceeded to purchase for him, no questions asked. It was an outrageous act of irresponsibility on the part of all involved in the transaction. And yet, amidst the emotional tsunami that was the loss of their only child, the Schaeffers could not bear to face the torturous road ahead which the suit certainly would have presented.

We've heard much in the past three days about how this is not the time for debating gun control laws, and how it's a time to focus our thinking on the family's bearing this terrible loss in Newton. I would argue the inverse. The families themselves are buried under a weight of grief few can imagine, and that is precisely why this is a time they cannot be expected to act. They can only hope to hold onto one another, to breathe the next breath, and to survive. It is the rest of us who must act now -- to do the heavy lifting in the immediate aftermath which we cannot possibly expect of these families. It's not enough to simply say a prayer and hug our children in response. We have to mobilize in a way the victims' families will only have the emotional resources to do well down the line, when it will be too late and we risk facing yet more of these tragedies. We have to do this immediately. This is our job right now, the best use of our collective rage, and the one true way we can show our support and care.

Want to honor those lost? Then get to work. For all of our sakes...