Each slaughter of innocents seems to get more appalling. A high school. A college campus. A movie theater. People meeting their congresswoman. A shopping mall in Oregon, just this Tuesday. Today, a kindergarten classroom.
People will want to know about the killer in Newtown, Conn. His name and his supposed motives. Did he show signs of violence? But what actually matters are the children. What are their names? What did they dream of becoming? Did they enjoy finger-painting? Or tee ball?
All that is now torn away. There is no crime greater than violence against children, no sorrow greater than that of a parent who has lost a child, especially in this horrible way. Our hearts are broken for those parents who found out that their children -- little more than babies, really -- were wounded or killed, and for those who agonized for hours before taking their traumatized children home.
President Obama said he talked to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut and promised him the full resources of the federal government to investigate the killer and give succor to his victims. We have no doubt that Obama will help in any way he can, today, but what about addressing the problem of guns gone completely out of control, which comes up each time a gunman opens fire on a roomful of people but then disappears again?
The assault-weapons ban enacted under President Clinton was deficient and has expired. Obama talked about the need for "common-sense" gun control after the movie theater slaughter in Aurora, Colo., and he hinted during the campaign that he might support a new assault-weapons ban, presumably if someone else introduced it.
Republicans will never do that, because they are mired in an ideology that opposes any gun control. After each tragedy, including this one, some litter the Internet with grotesque suggestions that it would be better if everyone (kindergarten teachers?) were armed. Far too many Democrats also live in fear of the gun lobby and will not support an assault-weapons ban, or a ban on high-capacity bullet clips or any one of a half-dozen other sensible ideas.
Obama said today that "we have been through this too many times" and that "we are going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics."
When will that day come? It did not come after the 1999 Columbine shooting, or the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, or the murders in Aurora.
The more that we hear about gun control and nothing happens, the less we can believe it will ever come. Certainly, it will not unless the president and congressional leaders show the courage to make it happen.