WASHINGTON -- They've begun burying the 20 children in the bucolic New England town of Newtown, Conn., this week, beautiful, innocent kids killed by a psychotic 20-year-old gunman.
Adam Lanza, a troubled, apparently medicated youth -- whose mother, an avid gun enthusiast, taught him how to shoot firearms of all calibers -- also fatally shot six others, teachers and staff, at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The school, equipped with a brand-new security system that was in "lockdown," was considered by parents to be one of the safest anywhere. Nevertheless, Lanza shot his way inside the building as easily as if he was breaking into a one-room schoolhouse.
A grief-stricken community, along with a stunned nation, is seeking answers, once again, to a battery of questions, some of which may be unknowable. How could this have happened? Why did Lanza -- who began his rampage by shooting his mother in her bed as she slept, then killed himself before police arrived at the school -- commit this insane act of carnage? And the hardest question: How can we prevent this from happening again?
We've been through mass shootings many times before, but it seems they're happening far too frequently lately. Surveys conducted in the aftermath of previous shootings found a majority of Americans saw the killings as an "isolated act" of a single enraged individual.
But this one struck a deeper chord in the psyche of the nation's citizenry. A Washington Post poll reported that a 52 percent majority believes that the elementary school shooting "reflects broader problems in American society."
Many see a pervasive media culture of violence throughout our society that is poisoning the minds of our children. The Parents Television Council reports that when an average kid graduates from elementary school, he or she will have seen 8,000 murders and more than 100,000 acts of violence on TV. By age 18, the murders climb to 40,000. The council says this leads troubled youths to commit aggressive acts in adulthood.
Others say the problem is a lack of stricter gun control laws in our country, states and communities. According to available FBI statistics, there were 12,664 murders in the United States last year, 8,583 of them caused by guns.
From the moment the Newtown story broke last week, the cry from the national news media and Congress has been all about increased gun control laws. But this issue is a great deal more complicated than just the availability of guns. In Lanza's case, he used his mother's firearms, all of which were legally obtained.