The nation is not doing enough to protect its children and “every idea” should be considered as Congress debates and responds to the Newtown, Conn. school shooting, the Senate’s leader said Monday.

After leading a moment of silence, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) spoke briefly about the tragedy. Neither leader made specific references to firearms, mental illness or concerns with the nation’s cultural consumption of violent video games, television shows or movies, giving little sense of how the congressional debate might steer in the coming days.

In his remarks, Reid mourned the loss of “Twenty little girls and boys, twenty daughters and sons,” who “will never grow up to drive, go on that first date or graduate from high school. Twenty six and seven-year olds who will never have a chance to fall in love.”

It’s hard to comprehend this type of tragedy, let alone recover from it,” Reid said later. “But in the words of Helen Keller, ‘Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming suffering.’”

Reid said Congress would stand with the families of the victims of Friday’s mass shooting, which left 20 young schoolchildren, six adults, the mother of the assailant and the 20-year old shooter, Adam Lanza, dead.

Part of the nation’s healing process “will require Congress to examine how to prevent more tragedies like the one in Newtown, Connecticut, Aurora, Colorado., Oak Creek, Wisconsin and Portland, Oregon,” Reid said. “As President Obama said last night, no one law can erase evil, no policy can prevent a determined mad man from committing a senseless act of violence. But we need to accept the reality that we’re not doing enough to protect our citizens. In the coming days and weeks we’ll engage in a meaningful conversation and proper debate about how to change laws and culture that allow this violence to continue to grow. We have no greater responsibility than keeping our must vulnerable and most precious resource, our children, safe. And every idea should be on the table as we discuss how best to do just that.”

McConnell spoke moments later.

“Any time there’s a shooting like this we’re crushed with sorrow, but there’s no escaping the fact that the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary stands out for its awfulness,” he said. “The murder of so many little children and the adults who tried to save them doesn’t just break our hearts, it shatters them.”

The Republican leader also called Obama’s Sunday address in Newtown a “very moving meditation” that reflected “on the singularity of parental love.”

Of the families, McConnell said, “We can do nothing to lessen their anguish, but we can let them know that we mourn with them, that we share a tiny part of the burden in our own hearts and that we will lift the victims and their families and the entire community in prayer.”

Similar statements of condolence and the emerging debate on how to respond are expected throughout the day on the floors of the House and Senate.

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