Great write, Phil.
As a Canadian, living near the border (right across from Detroit, MI), and married to an American from Florida, perhaps my perspective is a little different.
I understand and accept the American right to bear arms, and understand the history behind it.
I also understand that the "militia" clause of the constitution was written at a time when the U.S. population was much, much smaller. It was written at a time when people, for the most part, respected each other and actually watched out for each other. That, sadly, is no more.
The writers of the constitution certainly had no vision of what the U.S. is today. They certainly didn't forsee the "Michigan Militia" and others, blowing up government buildings and killing so many with so little justification or rationality.
It is my belief that Americans much do some soul-searching, and forget the rhetoric. They must decide what kind of country they want to live in; one where there are over 300 million deadly weapons in circulation, where random acts of insanity can destroy communities, where any nutjob with a cause, rational or crazy, can grab a gun and make a name for themselves, or a country where peace and security are paramount virtues.
Do I have a solution? No, not really. With that many weapons out there, the genie is long out of the bottle, and won't be pushed back in.
The best I can think is that all owners of weapons should think seriously about the security of those weapons, about their accessability to others and to the actual reasons they have for owning them. The woman who owned the guns that caused the mayhem in Connecticut certainly did not forsee their final usage. She paid the price in full.
Solutions? Lockups or gunsafes. Trigger locks. Separate storage of weapons, ammunition and breach blocks, in separate safes. Make weapons safety the culture, not the politics of gun ownership.
Assault weapons, pistols, short-barrel pump shotguns are not hunting weapons, These weapons are designed to maim and kill fellow humans. We store paint and battery acid with more regulation than we store weapons and ammunition. It's time to rethink the culture of responsible gun ownership. Start with regulating the storage and security of the weapons already out there. Small steps, before any actual weapons bans, which, given the number of weapons already in circulation, will do nothing to curb the violence.
My .02, which, I suppose, is what it's worth.