The senselessness alone would have been sufficient.
So too the sheer horror.
The devastated families, the tapestry of their lives ripped apart, would have been more than enough to make the events at Sandy Hook Elementary almost too weighty to bear.
Much as they were more than a decade before at Columbine, or in any number of other mass or spree shootings -- over five dozen by one count, more than 150 by another -- that have played out over the past few decades.*
There is nothing, one would hope (and even suspect) that could make the present moment any worse.
And yet sadly, there is, and it is something that one hears almost every time one of these tragedies transpires. Over and again, no matter how frequently they happen, and no matter how often the specifics of the latest event eerily mirror the last one and the one before that -- the high capacity weaponry, the apparent mental and emotional instability of the shooter, and the relatively bucolic surroundings of the locale where the deed is done -- it is said again and again with no sense of irony or misgiving.
And it is maddening.
"This wasn't supposed to happen here."
Or perhaps, "No one could have imagined something like this happening in our community."
Or even worse, "This is a nice, safe place," which of course was the same thing said about Springfield, Oregon, Pearl, Mississippi, Littleton and Aurora, Colorado, Moses Lake, Washington, Jonesboro, Arkansas, Santee, California, Edinboro, Pennsylvania, Paduchah, Kentucky, and pretty much every one of the dozens of places where the things that never happen appear to happen regularly enough to constitute something well North of never; indeed quite a bit up from rare.