I fear that if a mass gun killing of school kids at Sandy Hook Elementary won’t spark an honest national dialogue about guns, then I don't know what will. As a gun owner, I very much respect the constitutional issues at stake. They're important. But as a mother of three young children, I am terrified by our unwillingness to deal with gun violence, both the mass shootings and the thousands killed by handguns in our cities each year.

I'm not going to suggest there are easy fixes to these protracted issues. Even if you stopped mass shootings, what about all the handgun violence? Lawful gun owners shouldn't be penalized for the actions of bad or ill people. But this is an American problem, not that of a single political party, and it requires us to sit down together to find solutions where everyone must give a little from their preferred position. Otherwise, we let the fringes dictate the terms of this debate, and everyone loses — except them.

We should begin with the items that have overwhelming public support: tighten enforcement when it comes to preventing the mentally ill from purchasing any weapons, bar purchases by people on no-fly or terror watch lists, and if you have to undergo a background check at a licensed gun dealer (as I have), you should not be able to evade that by obtaining a weapon at gun shows or privately. Otherwise, background checks are worthless. I also support current efforts to restrict alterations on firearms to get around federal restrictions, like bump stock.

Beyond those initial measures, we need our leaders to show allegiance to the voters, not to special interests, and sit down and work together on long-term solutions. This is not going to be solved overnight.