Bob Schieffer: To what depths of horror must we sink?

A woman pays her respects at a makeshift memorial outside St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church before Mass, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Newtown, Conn. AP Photo/Julio Cortez

(CBS NEWS) By now the pros and cons of the gun issue are well known, but here is the question that must be asked: Is what happened Friday the new normal?

Of course, there are legitimate reasons - for both pleasure and protection - to own guns.

But if the slaughter of innocent children is not bad enough to make us rethink what we can do to keep guns out of the hands on the mentally ill, what IS bad enough?

To what depths of horror must we sink before we say this cannot be tolerated?

Are we willing to settle for a culture in which kindergarten children are no longer safe in the classroom, and a visit to the mall or a movie is a life-threatening experience?

In recent years there has been no serious effort to address this problem. No piece of gun legislation was seriously considered during this session of Congress.

It is the subject no one wants to talk about for fear of offending the powerful gun lobby.

Perhaps it is time to remember what Ed Murrow told us, that "we are not descended from fearful people."

Our forefathers had the courage to tell the most powerful country of their day, "You have gone too far, we can tolerate this no more," and upon their courage America was built.

Have we - their descendants - become so afraid of the possible political consequences that we are unwilling to explore ways to make a safer world for our children?

I can't believe we have.

I think we are better than that.

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    Bob Schieffer is CBS News' chief Washington correspondent and anchor of Face the Nation.

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