I was going to write a nice Father's Day blog about the pleasures of being a father – and grandfather – until the massacre in Orlando this weekend kicked all the joy out of me.
I generally try to limit the politics in this blog. (I'm saving it for my new novel.) But sometimes some things needs to be said.
While we're all contemplating our latest gun tragedy, here are some facts to remember:
-- Americans make up about 4.4 percent of the world's population, yet we own roughly 42 percent of all of the world's privately held firearms and account for 31 percent of all civilian gun deaths.
-- On average, there is more than one mass shooting for each day in America. (Mass shooting, defined as an incident with four or more victims, including the shooter.)
-- States with stricter gun control laws have fewer deaths from gun-related violence.
-- Twenty-three people have been shot by toddlers this year. Toddler shootings are on the rise.
-- 73 Americans have been killed by terrorism in the last decade. The number of Americans killed by gun violence in the last decade: 280,024.
-- There have been at least 998 mass shootings since Sandy Hook. Here is a selective list of some of America's "greatest hits":
Feb. 25, 2016: Three killed, 14 wounded in Hesston, Kan.
Feb. 20, 2016: Six killed, two wounded in Kalamazoo County, Mich.
Dec. 2, 2015: 14 killed, 21 wounded in San Bernardino.
Nov. 27, 2015: Three killed, nine wounded in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Oct. 21, 2015: Three killed in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Oct. 1, 2015: Nine killed, nine wounded in Roseburg, Ore.
July 16, 2015: Five killed, two wounded in Chattanooga, Tenn.
June 17, 2015: Nine killed, one wounded in Charleston, S.C.
June 11, 2015: Three killed, one wounded in Menasha, Wisc.
Oct. 24, 2014: Five killed, one wounded in Marysville, Wash.
May 23, 2014: Six killed, 13 wounded in Santa Barbara (some of the victims were stabbed).
April 3, 2014: Three killed, 12 wounded at Fort Hood, Texas.
Feb. 20, 2014: Four killed, two wounded in Alturas, Calif.
Sept. 16, 2013: 12 killed, eight wounded in Washington, D.C.
July 26, 2013: Seven killed in Hialeah, Fla.
June 7, 2013: Six killed, three wounded in Santa Monica.
April 21, 2013: Five killed in Federal Way, Wash.
March 13, 2013: Five killed, two wounded in Herkimer County, N.Y.
Dec. 14, 2012: 28 killed, two wounded in Newtown, Conn.
Sept. 27, 2012: Seven killed, one wounded in Minneapolis.
Aug. 5, 2012: Seven killed, three wounded in Oak Creek, Wisc.
July 20, 2012: 12 killed, 58 wounded in Aurora, Colo.
May 20, 2012: Six killed, one wounded in Seattle.
April 2, 2012: Seven killed, three wounded in Oakland.
Feb. 22, 2012: Five killed in Norcross, Ga.
Oct. 14, 2011: Eight killed, one wounded in Seal Beach.
Sept. 6, 2011: Five killed, seven wounded in Carson City, Nev.
Jan. 8, 2011: Six killed, 13 wounded (including Gabby Giffords) in Tucson
Here is the entire text of the Second Amendment:
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
There is nothing about the right of the individual Bubba to buy an AK 15.
It's time to reinstate the assault weapons ban and other common sense gun reforms like bans on large-capacity magazines.
This is not a total gun ban or an infringement of Second Amendment rights. It's a ban on easy public access to military grade weaponry. The AR 15 used in Orlando fires 13.3 rounds per second or 800 per minute. Its purpose is to cause maximum human carnage. It is not a defensive weapon.
We have shown that, as a country, we cannot handle these weapons safely. They have led to a public safety crisis. Americans shouldn't have to live under the threat that whenever they go out – to a movie, to a mall, to a parade -- that some nutcase could snap and blow many, many people away.
Imagine if the Orlando killer only had pistols or a regular rifle?? The carnage would have been less severe. These weapons have to be banned for street use.
We don't let people drives their Ferraris at 200 mph on our highways. We restrict their speed because they create an unsafe environment. Likewise, we must restrict the possession of military grade weaponry and keep it where it belongs: in the military.
More guns lead to more violence. Less guns, less violence.
What to do?
Vote for the people who want to do the right thing. Work in their campaigns. Work in your communities. Join an organization. Give money. Write a letter. Push back.
Happy Father's Day.
My deepest sympathies to all the fathers ... and sons ... and mothers ... and daughters who were victims of the Orlando outrage.