As our children become aware of the horror that struck a Connecticut elementary school last week, many, especially the younger ones, will need to be comforted. Many will want assurances what happened there cannot occur here.
Sadly, we adults know the answer to that. The evil that spurs a human being to do what was done to innocent little children is both vicious and devilishly cunning. There is no guarantee it can be prevented.
No doubt educators are wondering today if there is more that can be done to safeguard the children in their - and our - schools. Certainly, such second-guessing of security measures is wise. It should be an ongoing exercise.
Much already is being done to keep evil-doers out of our schools and to cope with them if they manage to get in. Some schools have sophisticated security measures and equipment. Some have resource officers - armed police and sheriff's deputies assigned to patrol within schools.
As we have noted many times in the past, resource officers are among the most effective shields against violence in schools, for reasons going far beyond their presence as armed guards. Because of their relationships with students and faculty, they sometimes can head off trouble before violence breaks out.
And we have learned of actions taken by staff at the Newtown, Conn., school that, beyond any doubt, saved the lives of some children.
Children, too, should be educated in how to react to violence, whether it be a bully in the halls or a gunman. Parents are the best judges of how to handle that, and at what age it is appropriate.
Quite naturally, the Newtown tragedy has spawned a new look at gun control laws in our nation. While this examination is not out of line, facts don't suggest tighter gun control is the answer.
The majority of murders in this country occur with handguns, not the assault weapons many want to ban. Previous bans of assault weapons haven't reduced violent crime. Connecticut has among the strictest gun laws in the country.
President Obama has called for a new battery of gun control legislation in January, but we doubt that will solve the problem.
The common thread to most mass shootings of recent years including the Connecticut tragedy is the mental instability of the perpetrators. And yet we have attached such a stigma to mental illness that families are hesitant to get care for those suffering mental problems and insurance companies are strict in what they will cover.
Three important conversations will do more to prevent a repeat of the Connecticut tragedy than new gun laws:
Federal funding to pay the cost of an armed guard at schools should be considered.
More help for the mentally ill and support for mental health institutions to treat those with mental disorders should be thoroughly examined.
The Hollywood culture so quick to point the finger at guns needs to take more responsibility for the video and movie content it is producing, numbing the minds of many to the horror of killing.
More gun laws with questionable value will only increase the possibility that those who mean harm will have the weapons many from the black market and law-abiding citizens will be lacking the means to protect themselves from those people.