People stand outside a vigil at the Saint Rose of Lima church in Newtown, Connecticut December 14, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/SHANNON STAPLETON
Exasperation, indignation, vexation.
Where the hell do you start to describe the mood here?
They are not even close to the right words to capture just how angry people are.
There is nothing worse a human being can do than randomly open fire and murder innocent kids in cold blood at a school.
Except, perhaps, not do anything to prevent it from happening again.
The infuriation here is not just over the needless death of so many innocent children and adults but that another school shooting has rocked America.
The blood-soaked corpses of tiny children should be a turning point for a nation that, sadly, is growing accustomed to being shocked and surprised.
They know all about mass murder.
The collective anger was bubbling over before I even reached Connecticut.
"It's screwed up," said Dan Atkinson, who was flying to his home, 20 minutes from Newtown. "He should have killed himself. "
Atkinson's community reached him quickly after the tragedy.
"I had 40 calls today from friends and family from home, he said. "My wife is not doing well -- having a tough time with it. "
How many children brutally murdered with legally purchased weapons will be tolerated before somebody finally says enough is enough in the United States and in other places, too, including Canada?
I asked this question from Norway when I covered Anders Breivik's senseless slaughter of 77 in 2011 and from Montreal after the rampage at Dawson College in 2006. Now, it comes up again in 2012 where kindergarten kids were sitting ducks.
"Our hearts are broken today" said President Barack Obama, who also suggested it's time for "meaningful action."
Soft and consolling words from a president.
He means it but it means nothing.
The truth is what transpired here on a quiet Friday before Christmas was not something unique or unheard of.
In fact, it's just weeks after an NFL player shot and killed the mother of his baby daughter before turning the gun on himself -- and just months removed from the movie theatre massacre in Denver last July.
It has become a nation too familiar with terms such as "first responder."
"I know first responders who told the kids to close their eyes as they walked them out," Atkinson said. "9/11 was tough for Connecticut but this, because of kids, is even tougher."
When is the U.S. going to admit they have a culture of not just murder but murder that targets the innocent?
"We've endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years, and each time I learn the news, I react not as a president, but as anybody else would, as a parent. And that was especially true today," Obama said. "I know there's not a parent in America who doesn't feel the same overwhelming grief that I do."
Nice sentiments but they don't help the parents of the slain kids or any of the families of the 26 victims from the school.
Same goes for the parents of the 12 dead students Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. 13 years ago or the moms and dads of the 32 shot to death at Virginia Tech University in 2007.
The list of dead kids is too long to print here.
At Dawson College and in Norway I saw firsthand how cheap life can be. I feel just as scarred from covering Jane Creba, Just Desserts, the Eaton Centre and Danzig St. shootings in Toronto.
But this is the first massacre I've covered since becoming a father and it feels different than before. Sure, you can understand the pain of people who have lost a child so senselessly but as the president says, it hits home for every parent.
My heart breaks for those poor parents.
With that in mind, as the president pledged, it's well past time for people of all walks of life to put away their partisanship and take immediate action to take away the weapons from all of those people who clearly should not own or possess firearms.
They owe it to those dead children.
This should start now -- even before they remove the tiny murder victims from the school.
"These neighbours are our neighbours, and these children are our children, and we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this -- regardless of the politics," Obama said.
They'll never know what child's life they are saving by actually doing something.
Sadly, it will be too late for the people slaughtered in Newton and all of the others brutally slain before them.