We’re all sadden and shocked–and horrified–about the slayings at Virginia Tech.

Our hearts go out to the victims and their families and to the whole university.

As this is a developing story, you’ll probably have more information when you read this than we do right now.

The suddenness and horror of the killings have stunned us all. Unfortunately, John Nichols of the Nation wasn’t stunned into silence. He starts an insta-column on the tragedy by quoting the shocked reaction of the university’s president:

“‘The university is shocked and indeed horrified,’ explained Steger, after it became clear that what had happened on his campus Monday was worse the carnage at Columbine High School in 1999 or at the University of Texas in 1966.

“The trouble with shock and horror is that it does not often translate into contemplation, let alone serious reflection on the state of a nation in which such an incident can occur — and, more troublingly, in which no one can suggest that the killings were unimaginable.”

Nichols apparently doesn’t need much time for contemplation or “serious reflection.” Without missing a beat, he continues:  

“The first question, appropriately, is: Why did this happen?

“The second question, equally appropriately, is: What should we do about it?

“There is is a simple answer to Question No. 1: America is a violent country.

“Unfortunately, simple answers lead to simplistic responses. If America can do nothing about its violent streak, the NRA will argue, it is silly to place limits on gun ownership. Better to arm everyone, the argument goes. …’Or better to allow the ‘concealed carry’ of weapons. Or, well, you get the point — anything to avoid taking a piece out of the profits of the corporations that manufacture and sell deadly weapons.'”