12/20/2012 03:29 pm ET Updated Feb 19, 2013

We've Been Here Before -- How Much Grief Is Enough?

We have been to this place before.

Once again, the violent death of innocents, the soul-ripping grief of bereaved parents, and the shattered peace of a community screams out of our televisions. Once again, we have cause to clutch our loved ones closer, praying that we will never know such devastation, that our love might somehow be enough to keep our children safe from the bullets of a madman.

It is not.

We have been to this place before. Before the gut-churning horror and sadness of the killings at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, there was a shopping mall in Washington, a movie theater in Aurora, a college campus in Virginia, a high-school in Columbine. And those are just the gun deaths that are spectacular enough to gain national attention.

In the past year, guns claimed nineteen lives in Compton. Nine lives claimed in Wilmington. Another nine were shot to death in Watts. One of those nine was a one-year old boy named Angel.

How much grief is enough? How much tragedy will it take? Gun-rights advocates say that people will always kill people, that a murderer will always find a way. I do not know how anyone could stand before the coffins of first graders, and say we should not be making it even a little bit harder for someone to carry an assault weapon into a room of children.

It begins there. We need to reinstate the Assault Weapons Ban. We need to ban-high capacity clips. We need more thorough background checks, and we need to offer more mental health services. But a life taken with a handgun is no less of a tragedy. A mother does not suffer less, knowing that her child's life was extinguished with a gun that did not have a 30-round clip. There is no solace in a gun killing that is a first crime.

Guns kill people. They are instruments of death. They are used precisely because they are so lethal. They need to be a lot harder to buy. We need to be doing a lot more to get them off our streets.

I have been to too many funerals of victims of gun violence. I have been with families whose eyes have no more tears left to pour out. I have seen the endless, easy death that guns bring to our streets, our homes and our schools.

We cannot wait for another tragedy, another crime too horrible for words to get us to act. My colleagues in Congress need to answer a simple question: are they more afraid of the gun lobby, or more afraid that this will happen again. Because unless we act, unless we pass bold, necessary, overdue gun control legislation, it will.

We have been to this place before. I do not want to come here again.