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A guy with a gun license offers 5 common-sense laws that might prevent gun violence.

5 easy common-sense ways to fix gun control … and one that will actually work.

A guy with a gun license offers 5 common-sense laws that might prevent gun violence.

Watching Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate finally put their feet down to try to vote on gun control has been thrilling and inspiring — but the laws up for discussion aren't perfect.

One of the things they want to vote on is the so-called "No Fly, No Buy" bill, which would ban the sales of guns to people suspected of terrorism on the government’s “no-fly” list.

The American Civil Liberties Union has already pointed out that the no-fly list is an egregious overreach that can infringe on the rights of innocent people, including actual babies.


Logistically, we're never going to be able to ban guns outright (also, the idea of only police and the military having access to firearms might scare me more than our current predicament.). But clearly something needs to be done about gun violence in America, right?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Photo by Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons.

Fortunately, I have a license to carry in a state with some of the strictest gun control laws in the country, and it's taught me five easy common-sense ways we could reform our gun laws without impeding on the rights of lawful gun owners — or anyone else:

1. Limit all magazines to 10 bullets or less.

There tends to be a lot of confusion when it comes to what constitutes an "assault rifle." Unfortunately, "That gun looks scary, and I don't like it" and "Some people have used it to kill people," aren't really good criteria for legislation.

But if we just limited magazines to 10 bullets or less, we could seriously hinder anyone intent on the mass destruction of people. Besides, anyone who needs more than 10 bullets in a magazine to take down a hog or shoot a piece of paper should probably spend a little more time at the target range.

Oh, and if you already have a gun with a large magazine? No one is taking it away. You should be able to keep it if you register it. Easy enough, right?

Photo from St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office/Wikimedia Commons.

2. Enhance mandatory background check requirements and standardize them across all states, including for private sales.

This is something people have been demanding for a while now, and there's no reason it shouldn't be able to happen.But if we were to actually standardize and adhere to the bare minimum ATF background check that's currently on the books, anyone with a history of substance abuse, domestic violence, or other violent crimes would already be disqualified from purchasing a new gun.

Of course, we could make the existing background checks more robust too.

But in order to do this without punishing people who haven't committed a crime or discriminating against, for example, people with psychiatric conditions or former military personnel who received other than honorable or bad conduct discharges, we would also need to establish a fair and efficient appeals process that could evaluate each individual on a case-by-case basis. And that's a lot of work, which brings me to my next point...

Photo by Pål Joakim Olsen/Flickr.

3. We should make sure the National Instant Criminal Background Check System is built for confidence, instead of speed.

In states that do adhere to the very-very-very basic requirements of the FBI's instant background check system, 90% of them come back immediately with a positive result. But thanks to something called the "default proceed" loophole, if a background check throws any red flags, the FBI has three days to resolve those question marks or a person can buy the gun anyway. And if it turns out they weren't supposed to have access to one? The ATF has to actively seek out and reclaim the weapon that was already purchased. You know, because that's a practical solution.

This "compromise" that a bipartisan group of Republican and Democratic senators recently offered on the "No Fly, No Buy" bill also invoked this three-day rule. But here's the thing: In 2015, nearly 16,000 ineligible gun owners were able to acquire firearms through the "default proceed" law — including Dylann Roof, who then went on to kill nine people in Charleston, South Carolina.

Look, I get it. Bureaucratic holdups are totally annoying. But maybe it's worth taking more than three days to look into these things if it might save lives?

Photo by Nomader/Wikimedia Commons.

4. We could treat firearms like cars — with licensing, registration, and mandatory insurance.

This has already been attempted with pretty clear results. As Vox reported, "After Connecticut passed a law requiring gun purchasers to first obtain a license, gun homicides fell by 40 percent and suicides fell by 15.4 percent. When Missouri repealed a similar law, gun homicides increased by 23 percent and suicides increased by 16.1 percent."

We could also require every firearm to be registered with a physical deed to accompany transfers as a written record of the gun's previous ownership. (Admittedly, privacy advocates do have some valid arguments against this, but it's a process that could still add value.)

In addition, what if we required mandatory gun insurance so that every gun owner has financial protection in the case of theft, unintentional discharge, or, you know, any of the other things that could possibly go wrong?

This would be good for the economy, too — let the market decide the insurance rate for each different type of gun in each different geographic area. For example, an AR-15 would probably be comparable to a red sports car, but that .38 revolver you keep around "just in case" would have a pretty low insurance rate. And costs would probably be higher in dense populations.

Photo by CB Agulto/Flickr.

5. Empower the government to actually collect and study information about trends in gun violence.

Imagine if the Centers for Disease Control wasn't allowed to collect data on cancer or the Zika virus, and we didn't have a centralized database for tracking epidemics. How can you make an informed decision to stop a crisis if you don't have any information on it?

That's what happened to the CDC thanks to the NRA, which began fighting those efforts in 1996. To this day, the CDC is essentially throttled for funding into gun research because — as the NRA admits themselves — gun enthusiasts oppose biased research. Which certainly makes some sense. Except ... isn't the NRA biased as well?

Photo by Slowking4/Wikimedia Commons.

And that's the crux of it: We're never going to get anywhere on common-sense gun reform as long as more than 200 members of Congress are in the pocket of the NRA.

Whether you're a staunch pacifist or hardcore antique gun collector, people not murdering other people is something that most of us can agree on. And there are plenty of options for ways we could make our country safer.

But all you have to do is follow the money — and the sales boost that seems to happen every time another mass shooting hits the news — and it becomes pretty clear why we keep allowing these same awful tragedies to happen over and over and over again.

Wayne LaPierre, CEO and executive vice president of the NRA. Photo by Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons.

So here's the only guaranteed way for our country to take action on gun reform: If your senator or representative is on this list, then vote them out of office.

Doing that might not make the change happen right away, but until the majority of the government is no longer funded by the NRA, these other changes aren't likely to happen either.

Since his first hit single "Keep Your Head Up" in 2011, award-winning multi-platinum recording artist Andy Grammer has made a name for himself as the king of the feel-good anthem. From "Good to Be Alive (Hallelujah)" to "Honey, I'm Good" to "Back Home" and more, his positive, upbeat songs have blared on beaches and at backyard barbecues every summer.

So what does a singer who loves to perform in front of live audiences and is known for uplifting music do during an unexpectedly challenging year of global pandemic lockdown?

He goes inward.

Grammer told Upworthy that losing the ability to perform during the pandemic forced him to look at where his self-worth came from. "I thought I would have scored better, to be honest," he says. "Like, 'Oh, I get it from all the important, right places!' And then it's taken all away in one moment, and you're like, 'Oh, nope, I was getting a lot from that.'

"It's kind of cool to break all the way down and then hopefully put myself back together in a way that's a little more solid," he says.

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Since his first hit single "Keep Your Head Up" in 2011, award-winning multi-platinum recording artist Andy Grammer has made a name for himself as the king of the feel-good anthem. From "Good to Be Alive (Hallelujah)" to "Honey, I'm Good" to "Back Home" and more, his positive, upbeat songs have blared on beaches and at backyard barbecues every summer.

So what does a singer who loves to perform in front of live audiences and is known for uplifting music do during an unexpectedly challenging year of global pandemic lockdown?

He goes inward.

Grammer told Upworthy that losing the ability to perform during the pandemic forced him to look at where his self-worth came from. "I thought I would have scored better, to be honest," he says. "Like, 'Oh, I get it from all the important, right places!' And then it's taken all away in one moment, and you're like, 'Oh, nope, I was getting a lot from that.'

"It's kind of cool to break all the way down and then hopefully put myself back together in a way that's a little more solid," he says.

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Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."