80 percent of Americans support common-sense gun control. Stop making excuses and get it done.

After a year where public mass shootings hit a historic low due to COVID-19, America has been rocked by two in the past month, leaving many — once again — with a feeling of helplessness. On March 16, a gunman in Atlanta, Georgia murdered eight people in massage spas, six of the victims were Asian.

On Monday, a gunman in Boulder, Colorado murdered ten people in a supermarket.

After a year out of the headlines, the topic of gun control has made it to the forefront once again. The maddening thing is even though the vast majority of Americans support common-sense gun control laws, nothing ever gets past Republican lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

There are two significant gun-control policies that enjoy bipartisan support, the assault weapons ban and universal background checks.


A 2019 poll reported by Politico found that 70% of Americans support an assault weapons ban, including 86% of Democrats and 54% of Republicans. The same year, a National Public Radio (NPR), PBS Newshour, and Maris College poll found that 83% of Americans believe Congress should pass legislation that requires background checks for gun purchases at gun shows or other private sales.

Pew Research found that Americans on both sides of the political divide overwhelmingly support universal background checks. Ninety-three percent of Democrats and 82% of Republicans said they favored, "making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks."


via Maryland GovPics

One of the biggest reasons why Republicans refuse to pass any gun-control legislation is a paralyzing fear of the National Rifle Association (NRA). Many Republican legislators are afraid that a negative grade from the organization will immediately end their careers.

The NRA is one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington and spends money with laser-like precision, elevating those who support gun rights and taking down those who favor gun control.

That means it's nearly impossible to get a Republican to support gun safety laws, even though only 1.5% of Americans are members of the NRA and 70% don't even own a gun.

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012 that killed 26 people, including 20 children and school employees, President Barack Obama got little support from Senate Republicans to pass a gun control bill supported by 90% of Americans. "It came down to politics—the worry that that vocal minority of gun owners would come after them in future elections. [Congress members] worried that the gun lobby would spend a lot of money and paint them as anti-Second Amendment," Obama said in a speech afterward.

Last Friday, after the Atlanta shooting, president Joe Biden spoke out about the need for Congress to take action this time.

"I don't need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common-sense steps that will save the lives in the future, and to urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act," Biden said.

On Tuesday, Biden called for the Senate to "immediately pass" two bills the House recently approved that change background check laws.

Biden has a long record of supporting gun-control measures. In 1993, he helped pass the Brady Bill which first established the background check and waiting period requirements. In 1994, he wrote a controversial crime bill that included a 10-year ban on assault weapons.

The problem Biden faces is that passing common-sense gun legislation would need 60 votes to make it through the Senate, so 10 Republicans would have to flip. However, some lawmakers believe that the current moment gives Democrats one of the best chances they have at getting something done because the NRA has been weakened over the past few years.

The NRA declared bankruptcy earlier this year and in 2018 it was outspent by gun-control groups for the first time ever.

"I think the implosion of the NRA, the growing support among the American people and the inevitability of increased support gives us an opportunity we haven't had before," Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal said earlier this month. He added: "What's changed is we now have a president who can put pressure on our colleagues."

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less