I shouldn't have to explain a mass shooting to my 4-year-old daughter.

Dealing with potty training, lack of sleep, and toddler tantrums are pretty much routine line items on my fatherhood resume.


This is what the back seat of my car often looks like. GIF from Allstate.

You know what's becoming a routine line item for Americans? Dealing with the incessant amount of gun violence in our communities.

For those of you keeping score at home, we've endured 355 mass shootings (defined as four or more victims, including the shooter) in the United States in under 340 days of this calendar year. That's more than one mass shooting a day.

Take a moment to think about how crazy that is. When you're finished, chances are you'll be extremely angry.

I was angry after the shooting in San Bernardino, California, too. Aside from the obvious reasons, I live in Los Angeles, so this hits close to home.

The scene during the San Bernardino shooting. Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images News.

As much as I despise gun violence and feel horrible for the victims, I never actually thought it would touch the lives of me or my loved ones. Until it did.

Hours after the news broke about the San Bernardino shooting, I was notified by the principal of my daughter's preschool that there was a gun threat via phone directed at a nearby elementary school.

Because of the proximity and recent gun-related events, my daughter and her preschool classmates were put on lockdown as the police department investigated the incident. Not long afterward, the "all clear" was given and everything went back to normal.

Well, the "new normal," anyway.

Mass shootings in America in 2015. Photo vis PBS NewsHour, used with permission.

At that moment, I knew that no one in America was immune to this. Looking at this map of the mass shootings in America this year makes that painfully clear.

What do we tell our kids when something like this happens?

Do we tell them nothing? Do we avoid movie theaters and playgrounds? Do we pull our children out of class and homeschool them instead? Do we sit around and pray for the problem to be solved?

The answers are complicated and nuanced, but the one thing we should all agree on is doing whatever we can to keep our kids safe from harm. And that's exactly what I pledged to my children. I didn't provide any explanation of the terrorist attacks (and that's exactly what they are). My message is that no matter what bad stuff is out there, I'm going to do everything in my power to ensure their safety.

Gun control is a great place to begin. As a society, we need to face facts and deal with some real talk.

We need to ask why it's way too easy to buy guns. We need to ask if it's necessary to own military-grade weaponry. We need to ask gun supporters what they're truly afraid of by implementing common-sense gun regulations.

No parent should experience the horror of learning that their kid's school is on lockdown due to a gun threat.

And most importantly, no family should have to bury a child due to gun violence. Parenting is hard enough without constantly worrying that somebody with bad intentions may open fire on our kids after we drop them off at school.

A Colorado family mourns after the deadly movie theater shootings in 2012. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images News.

The time it took from the moment I received the notification of the lockdown at my daughter's school to actually hugging her seemed like an eternity. Afterward, my main thought was, "I don't want this to happen ever again."

The reality is this can happen to any of us unless America steps up and makes some big changes.

Let's make it happen.

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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Image by 5540867 from Pixabay

Figuring out what to do for a mom on Mother's Day can be a tricky thing. There's the standard flowers or candy, of course, and taking her out to a nice brunch is a fairly universal winner. But what do moms really want?

Speaking from experience—my kids range from age 12 to 20—a lot depends on the stage of motherhood. What I wanted when my kids were little is different than what I want now, and I'm sure when my kids are grown and gone I'll want something different again.

We asked our readers to share what they want for Mother's Day, and while the answers were varied, there were some common themes that emerged.

Moms of young kids want a break.

When your kids are little, motherhood is relentless. Precious and adorable, yes. Wonderful and rewarding, absolutely. But it's a LOT. And it's a lot all the fricking time.

Most moms I know would love the gift of alone time, either away at a hotel or Airbnb or in their own home with no one else around. Time alone is a priceless commodity at this stage, especially if it comes with someone else taking care of cleaning, making sure the kids are fed and safe and occupied, doing the laundry, etc.

This is especially true after more than a year of pandemic living, where we moms have spent more time than usual at home with our offspring. While in some ways that's been great, again, it's a lot.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

Keep Reading Show less