Our deepest condolences go to the families and communities who recently lost loved ones to the epidemic of gun violence across this country. We share the dismay and outrage of Americans everywhere over the lives shockingly cut short. How many times must we see on TV or read about another tragic gun killing at a school, a shopping center or even a city hall?

The common denominator in these shootings is that they were committed by people who lost control of their lives, fell through cracks in our health and social service systems, and became ticking time bombs who acquired guns.

In Illinois five students were killed and 16 injured before a young gunman took his own life at Northern Illinois University. At a women’s clothing store in Tinley Park, five women were killed during a robbery. Other shooting sprees took victims in Ohio, California, Tennessee and Louisiana. And we cannot forget Virginia Tech last April, where a troubled student killed 33 students and teachers.

An average of 81 people are killed by gun violence every day in the U.S., according to a 2004 report. In all 29,569 people died from guns that year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported, and 64,389 were injured, about 176 per day.

It has all become sickeningly familiar.

Shockingly, but not surprisingly, right-wing gun lobbyists use these incidents to push for loosening concealed weapons regulations, asserting that an armed citizen is a protected citizen. These same right-wing groups also want to cut government spending on health care, human services, job creation and the whole range of public programs that are so urgently needed. With programs on the chopping block, the threat of more needless violence grows. Yet far-right groups like the National Rifle Association back the budget-slashers to the hilt.

It is clear that we need “common sense” gun laws, including a halt to sales of assault weapons. We need an end to the entire culture of violence and, for starters, we can replace that culture’s spokesperson in the White House.