Every time there is a massacre like this we seem to be descending to new lows. In the last year we had the first mass shooting at a cinema, in  Sikh temple and now a primary school.

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According to the experts there have been 61 mass shootings – defined as a killing in a public place of at least four people, excluding the killer – in the last three decades. The vast majority have been committed by white young males. Eleven have taken place in schools or colleges and there have been seven in the last year alone.

That makes this one of the worst years for gun massacres ever. These are the killings that grab the headlines and our attention. On average 125 Americans die this way every year. It is a shocking number but in pure maths it pales next to the 15,000 or so Americans who get killed every year in single acts of gun violence.

Read more: School shootings – horror, shock and calls for gun controls

The president set the nation’s tone on Friday night in the White House when he shed silent tears and was lost for words as he talked about the slaughter of the innocent. I have never seen him this emotional in public. In fact, I have never seen any president this emotional in public.

I doubt we will be hearing people accuse him of being aloof any time soon. As Mr Obama said: some meaningful action must come out of this. But what?

A ban on assault weapons, which he endorses, would be a start. But this shooter apparently used handguns. Some have suggested posting police officers in every school.  There are already metal detectors in all public high schools.

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