One father shielded his two children as a rain of bullets struck people to his right and left. He survived and now struggles to explain the horror of that moment to his kids. Nearby, another father covered his 2-year-old son with his own body. The bullets struck him and his wife, and now the little boy is an orphan.

Those are just two of the grim stories from the July Fourth mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, where a 21-year-old man with a legally-purchased high-powered rifle found a perch on a building roof and sprayed bullets down on a parade crowd gathered to celebrate American independence and freedom.

It is worth asking just how free we are in a country where, on any given day in any community anywhere in the United States, there is the chance that several people will be gunned down just because they went to a grocery store or to school or to a parade. There have already been more than 300 mass shooting incidents since the beginning of the year (mass shooting being defined as one in which there are at least four victims). According to the Gun Violence Archive, adding up shootings of all kinds, there were 500 incidents in which 233 people died and 600 were injured during the July Fourth weekend alone.

No one has weekends like this in any other civilized country, but this was just another weekend in America. Call this terror. Call this insanity. Call this the right to bear arms run amok. But do not call it freedom.

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