Something changed in America, when Adam Lanza decided to blow his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School and massacre 20 first-graders and six of their teachers in a matter of seconds.
Something happened to our resolve, to our indifference, to our willingness to accept the status quo.
These were not the first souls lost to gun violence, and sadly will not be the last.
But something changed.
Perhaps it was their age, so young, so innocent and with such potential.
Perhaps it was the timing, at Christmas, when their thoughts were of gifts and not guns.
Their deaths were no more tragic than any other, their lives no more valuable than others lost by gun violence.
But something changed. Something rocked us deep inside like nothing ever before. And something must be done.
"The world has changed," said Vice President Joe Biden, speaking before President Barack Obama outlined sweeping policies aimed at limiting gun violence. " And it's demanding action."
Some of the president's policy ideas will receive overwhelming support. Universal background checks should be the least we do.
A majority of Americans even agree, 55 percent, according to a recent Pew Research Center poll, to outlawing "assault-style weapons," like the one Lanza used in Sandy Hook.
That's not an overwhelming show of support, but the events of Dec. 14, 2012, demand an overwhelming response.
Some of the children who died had as many as 11 entry wounds. Never has the term "overkill" fit so appropriately.
Not every legislative measure will pass; no law will wipe out every incident of gun violence.
That should not keep us from at least trying.
"While there is no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence completely, no piece of legislation that will prevent every tragedy, every act of evil," Obama said Wednesday at the White House, "if there's even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there's even one life that can be saved, then we've got an obligation to try it."
These particular measures, pulled from NBC News, are worth trying:
n requiring criminal background checks on all gun sales, including private sales
n banning "military-style" assault weapons
n limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds
n strengthening penalties for gun trafficking
When any or all of these measures are enacted, we owe it to the lost to chart just how successful our actions have been and alter the course if necessary.
The most sweeping measures require Congressional action, seemingly an insurmountable obstacle considering the rhetoric coming out of some gun rights advocates who want you to believe the government is coming after your guns.
Congress must do something. To do nothing would make what we've felt these past few weeks a phantom pain, an ache with no end, and a sense of dread that yes, this will happen again because we elected to do nothing.
We should at least try.