Knee-jerk reactions to the massacre at a school in Connecticut have been distressing because, in too many cases, they have been displays of what politicians do best - suggest quick, politically correct "fixes" to make it appear government is doing something. Pleas for more thoughtful, effective action then become sidetracked and, all too often, forgotten.
In Washington, President Barack Obama and some members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, are calling for a new ban on sale of "assault rifles" and high-capacity ammunition clips for guns. Obama has said he wants action on the proposal in January.
Moderates and even some gun-rights supporters have suggested that bans on sale of certain types of guns and ammunition magazines should be discussed. But this does not mean there is a consensus on the issue. Gun control, mental health issues, school security and all other matters involved in avoiding mass murder of children should be weighed.
A year or two from now, if another school is invaded by a homicidal maniac, our consciences will not be salved by the thought that in the wake of the Newtown horror, we did something, something that in the end did not prevent another mass killing.