Twenty children are dead. When will it be time to talk about why it's so easy for so many killers to get the weapons that have killed so many innocents?
Friday's shooting at a Connecticut elementary school offers yet another horrific scene, this time a man armed with three weapons. All those children, and several adults, had their lives taken from them for reasons known only to a now-dead killer.
Not long after news of the mass murders broke, White House spokesman Jay Carney said gun policy would be discussed at some point but added, "I don't think today is that day."
That's sickening. It's long past time for action, let alone talk. Why shouldn't every American and certainly everyone in the White House, Congress and statehouses across the nation be asking how and why this massacre happened and how it and so many others could have been prevented?
Now, I know that even broaching the subject of gun policy invites howls of outrage as gun-rights advocates blame liberals and atheists and stupid people for misunderstanding our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
For the record, as I have written here before, I own guns I obtained legally and have used for target practice, but never for hunting and certainly not for a crime.
But consider that grade school in Newtown, that movie theater in Aurora, Colo., that shopping center in Tucson, Ariz. where six perished and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was wounded that Sikh temple in Wisconsin and, of course, that mall in east Salt Lake City.
Those who disdain gun control would say that if a legally armed person had been at Trolley Square that night, Sulejman Talovic would have been killed and lives saved. Well, two well-trained cops, one on duty and the other not, fended him off until three SWAT officers arrived in time to take him out before anyone else had to die.
Utah already has gun laws so lenient that it has earned a grade of zero out of a possible 100 from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
Our state, the organization noted, is tied with Alaska and Arizona "for the nation's weakest gun laws that help feed the illegal gun market and allow the sale of guns without background checks."
For President Barack Obama, who never has come out strongly on gun regulation, the Connecticut slaughter was too much.
"We're going to have to come together," he said Friday, "and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics."
Will it be tough? Yes, it will, especially considering that the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights organizations donate millions to politicians of every stripe, in every state, in every election.
But Obama never has to run for re-election again, and it's time he acts on his own words. I'm holding you to that, Mr. President.
Peg McEntee is a news columnist. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, facebook.com/pegmcentee and Twitter, @pegmcentee.