What do we do?

The latest mass killing in our country shakes us to our very souls.

The horror of what occurred Friday morning at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. is almost impossible to comprehend. Anyone who is a parent, grandparent or simply a member of the human race grieves for the families.

There is something unreal about reading and watching these news reports and then listening to Christmas songs playing on the radio.

I hugged by grandchildren tighter when I picked them up from school and daycare Friday afternoon. I talked with my children and told them I loved them.

We know how fleeting life can be, simply from the natural process of life. I never knew my father who died when I was a baby. My now 29-year-old daughter was a triplet and her two baby sisters Valerie and Jessica failed to survive being three months premature despite the best efforts of one of the best hospitals in the country.

My brother Greg died from a heart attack when he was 34. My dear wife of 27 years, Nancy, died in 2010 after a valiant eight-year battle with cancer.

We all suffer losses but we cannot imagine the losses suffered by these families who had their loved ones taken by incomprehensible violence.

As a country, our police agencies have been trained to respond to these shootings when they occur. But what has been done to prevent these massacres. Have we provided enough resources for mental health services? Are our laws sufficient to respond to people who we suspect might be a threat but who have not yet taken the final steps to violence?

There is a lot of hand wringing and public statements issued by our so-called leaders after each of these mass shootings, yet these massacres within our country continue.

In my community of Rockland, separate city councilors are taking steps to respond to the horror from Connecticut. Rockland’s Mayor William Clayton has asked for a meeting of public safety and school officials to see if the city is properly prepared and if our schools are protected.

City Councilor Elizabeth Dickerson has taken another tack, calling for a vigil and march to demand an end to gun violence and for Congress to enact common sense gun control laws.

Rockland has had a few vigils over the years. There was one about 20 years ago when a young girl was killed in a domestic violence incident. There was another one after the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

As individual communities and as a national community we must come up with some answers to stop the madness. Our children and grandchildren only concern should be whether they will receive the Christmas gift they most want, not whether they will be safe in their schools.