There are no words. Right here at Christmastime:

Eighteen children were killed on Friday morning in a shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., about 65 miles northeast of New York City, according to a person who had been briefed on the shooting. Another law enforcement official said preliminary reports suggested there could be as many as 20 fatalities, ranking it among the worst mass killings in United States history.

One state official said that an adult gunman was believed to be dead in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The gunman was in possession of at least two firearms, the official said. There was some speculation that there were two gunmen involved in the mass shooting.

More:

Stephen Delgiadice said his 8-year-old daughter heard two big bangs and teachers told her to get in a corner. His daughter was fine.

“It’s alarming, especially in Newtown, Connecticut, which we always thought was the safest place in America,” he said.

At this point, I think it’s more important that we tell our children how much we love them than that we use this evil event to draw political conclusions. To paraphrase Solzhenitsyn, the line between good and evil does not run between geographic or economic borders, but down the middle of every human heart. Lord, have mercy.

UPDATE: I was just down in the barbershop with my son when the president came on TV to talk about the killings. It was powerful, watching him tear up like that. I believe it was completely genuine. He is a father. No father (or mother) can face this without being shaken to the core. I appreciate the president’s passion and his dignity, and I share his frustration with why this kind of thing keeps happening. It goes beyond the availability of guns. I grew up in a rural gun culture. This sort of thing never happened, and still doesn’t down here. There’s something else going on.

UPDATE: Well, everybody’s going to talk about it, it seems. That’s fine. I just hate the reflex we have in this country to take events like this and react politically before we even stop to recognize it as a human tragedy. Anyway, Jeffrey Goldberg has some worthwhile thoughts about what we can and can’t do to stop things like this. It seems to me that whatever we might say or do with regard to gun regulation, there is something more fundamentally wrong with this country and its people. Me and you, I mean. The gun control argument that comes out every time we have something terrible like this happen reminds me of the futility of the arguments we have over teen pregnancy. Many people like to believe that the reason teenagers get pregnant is a lack of knowledge about and access to contraception. Is it really the case, in 2012, that a meaningful number of teenagers are ignorant of how one gets pregnant, and how one prevents it? Is it really the case that kids get pregnant because they can’t get their hands on rubbers, or other forms of contraception? Or is there something more fundamental and mysterious at work?