Somewhere between the extremes of those who would ban all gun ownership in any form and those who decry any type of regulation whatsoever is the middle ground of common sense things we can do to limit the proliferation of firearms in society and curb the culture of violence that has become so commonplace that most of us are numb to it until tragedies such as the senseless massacre last week in Newtown, Conn.
At a vigil Sunday evening remembering the 26 victims, President Barack Obama asked if we are doing enough to give all our children the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose. "If we are honest with ourselves, the answer is no," the President said. "And we will have to change."
Everyone who watched the televised service or saw news accounts of it later could not help but be moved as he read the names of some of the victims, and told those gathered that they were not alone in their grief.
As we look for a starting point in discussions about where we are as a nation, where we want to be and the steps that we need to take to reach those goals, hearing the names of the victims and seeing the photos of them in happy times can help bring us together and keep us focused on the bigger picture.
As a nation, we've expressed our horror time and again at senseless acts of killing. And each time that we think it could not possibly get worse, along comes another more shocking than those that preceded it. Without fail there quickly follows a growing call for gun control, and from the other side an equally strong contingent opposed to any regulations whatsoever.
There has to be a middle ground. There have to be reasonable steps that we can take. We can't predict every possible scenario, though. Nor can we ever entirely remove the possibility of a lone person acting in an extreme way to harm others. But that does not mean that there are not things that we can do to make our communities safer.
The conversation needs to begin now. And when someone on one side or the other if this debate wants to get on their soapbox and starting spewing divisive rhetoric, they should instead pause, recite the names of the victims aloud, and remember that we are all in this together, and only by working together will we be able to find answers.