Seemingly before the echoes of gunshots subside certainly long before the emotional echoes fade church bells ring out across our communities, serving as a melancholy clarion call for those lives lost to gun violence.
The frequency and severity of these events have unquestionably increased in recent years. While our community hasn't suffered the same horrific tragedy as that of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., there isn't any reason to think it can't or won't.
As terrifying as the events at Sandy Hook is the possibility that as a society we have become so desensitized to such violence that it barely registers on our collective conscience.
On any given day, we are provided an endless supply of consequence-free violence, whether it is delivered on television, in a movie theater, on the Internet or via a gaming console.
Society will never revert to the Ozzie and Harriet environment of the mid-20th century, nor should we want it to. We can't simply try to ignore the reality of today by hiding in the values of yesterday.
But, as a society, we have a responsibility to consider whether a first-person video game one that not only allows but encourages mass killing with weaponry not unlike that used in Newtown is appropriate.
Men and women who have served on the front lines during battle seldom return home unaffected. Those who witnessed carnage in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere the United States has sent troops into harm's way, will no doubt tell you that the toll paid for their dedicated service to our country is exacted for the rest of their lives.
When a situation requires the use of deadly force, local law enforcement officers never walk away unscathed. Regardless of the circumstances of the event, the experience results in a palpable emotional reaction often manifesting as continued mental replays of the situation for years.
Pair the personal toll along with public reminders of the experience news coverage, lawsuits, public response and emotional recovery can be a difficult road.
Compare that with a habitual gamer physically isolated but interacting with anonymous others around the world. When their day of death and carnage and violence is over, they unplug and walk away with no emotional investment. The gap between live-action gameplay and real-life carnage is growing increasingly slim and recognizing the separation between the two could be particularly difficult for those who are already detached from society or who have mental health issues.
Those who would suggest the solution to these tragedies is to simply ban the creation or sale of video games, violent movies or TV shows are oversimplifying an incredibly complex issue. Nor will a solution be found in prohibiting the sale of guns or putting weapons in the hands of every willing teacher. It isn't to incarcerate every person with mental health issues or or to build schools that resemble prisons.
If we let the bells ringing over Newtown serve as a call to action for all communities to stand up for those things we most want to protect not allowing ourselves or our decisions to be driven by fear or hate or bias perhaps we can disentangle them from the deadly preface of gunfire.