Since no amount of dead bodies seems enough to spur lawmakers to rein in access to guns, let's focus on the living -- the children gun violence leaves behind.
Start with the little boy and girl belonging to Jennifer Markovsky, a 35-year-old mother who was one of three people murdered Friday during the latest mass shooting of 2015 -- this time, a lone gunman's hourslong siege of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. For the crime of accompanying her friend to an appointment at the clinic, Markovsky lost her life in the most brutal and pointless, yet entirely American, manner.
Here's a thought for lawmakers who refuse to consider any meaningful legislation to reduce the daily carnage of gun violence across America: Thanks to your single-minded defense of unfettered gun rights at the expense of all reason and respect for life, there is an endless supply of children to be consoled. The other two victims of Friday's assault -- Garrett Swasey, a police officer, and Ke'Arre Stewart, an Iraq War veteran -- also each had two children.
Of course, children aren't the only ones who endure this unnecessary suffering. So do parents and grandparents. Grandchildren and nieces and nephews. Husbands and wives and brothers and aunts. Lifelong friends and beloved colleagues. Every life unique and irreplaceable, yet all equally defenseless in the face of a bullet.
But rather than taking action to address the full measure of destruction America's gun violence inflicts, many politicians appear more comfortable offering rote words of shallow sympathy to the victims' families, then jumping quickly behind distractions like the state of mental-health care in America. Was Robert L. Dear Jr., the suspect in last week's shooting, mentally ill? Did he oppose abortion? Or was he just extremely angry?
The truth is, the characteristics of the killers may vary, but the result is always the same -- a massacre of the innocent, made possible by virtually unimpeded access to guns. Dear, for instance, had several run-ins with the law and still had plenty of weapons at hand.
Many who oppose sensible gun-safety measures point to the 350 million or so guns in circulation and say it's too late to turn back now. Their chilling solution is for everyone to be armed, and ready to shoot, at all times.
Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado was right to call mass shootings "a form of terrorism." Even as politicians and those in Congress pump up public fears at the supposed threat of refugees fleeing Syria, every day in America people -- mostly white men -- are walking into movie theaters, restaurants, churches, grade schools, and health care centers armed to the teeth, determined to take as many people out as they can.
This is not an intractable problem. Countries from Australia to Britain have dealt with mass shootings quickly and effectively with better laws. As a result, more of their residents are alive today, and none of those laws have created the tyrannies that fuel the paranoid fantasies of some activists.
Even in America, where the Second Amendment provides robust protection of gun rights, there are reforms that modestly brave politicians could pass if they wanted to, including universal background checks; expanding the categories of people deemed too dangerous to have guns; funding research into gun violence; and gun buyback programs.
Instead, the rhetoric on this issue swerves between the irrational and the deranged. Consider a recent sampling from the leading Republican presidential candidates. Ben Carson said, "I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away." Donald Trump, who once supported expanding background checks, said the murders in the terrorist attacks in Paris were connected to France's strict gun controls. Sen. Ted Cruz suggested Dear could be a "transgendered leftist activist." Days earlier he proudly announced the endorsement of Troy Newman, president of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, who has advocated the execution of doctors who perform abortions.
Meanwhile, the killings go on. More than once a day on average this year, mass shootings have destroyed lives and families. President Barack Obama on Saturday said this endless ritual of murder is "not normal," but that is precisely the problem: In America, it has become all too normal.