+
A historically violent man shot and killed the mother of his son. This is why we need 'red flag' laws.

Brian Kennedy had been threatening to kill his ex-wife for years.

Two weeks before he shot her at point blank range in a Wawa convenience store outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Kennedy legally purchased a gun.

On March 28th, Stephanie Miller walked into the Wawa convenience store where she was scheduled to pick up her son from her ex-husband. As part of a custody agreement and because Kennedy had threatened to kill her in the past, the two had agreed to exchange the boy in a public setting.


However, instead of bringing along their boy, the 34-year-old was armed with the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle he had purchased. According to an affidavit of probable cause, he “said nothing” as he entered the store and shot the mother of his child in the head and stomach. The 37-year-old was killed instantly.

The incident didn't come out of nowhere. Like so many premeditated gun murders, there were multiple red flags.

Three years ago, Kennedy was arrested for threatening to kill Miller — in the exact same Wawa where he eventually did on March 28th. While she had been granted a protective order against him, it had expired in September 2018.

According to Michael D’Arco, Miller’s boyfriend who had recently purchased an engagement ring to propose to her, they were extremely afraid of Kennedy. "Every day we lived in fear that he would come to kill us," he told NBC10.

Additionally, D’Arco revealed that he had spent $7,000 in legal bills attempting to extend the protection order before it expired, but the justice system failed. "That is why it was not renewed," he continued. "Because Stephanie had been a victim of a judicial system that she got caught up in with no advocates. No help."

Just six hours before her murder, Miller sent an email to the local police. "I do not feel safe around this man who has been found guilty of simple assault and harassment against me,” it read. “Now he is trying to get me to meet him in person tonight at 8 p.m." According to D’Arco, she never heard back from them, and went to go retrieve her son as scheduled.

Despite his history of threatening violence, Kennedy had no issue legally purchasing a gun.

"Stephanie's killer was able to walk into a gun shop and buy his AR-15 legally, with nothing, and no one, stopping him," said Stephanie Frankel, co-executive director of Delaware County United for Sensible Gun Policy.

Over the last few years, a number of shootings have prompted lawmakers to reexamine their gun control laws.

In 2018, Nikolas Cruz, an emotionally distraught former student of Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, opened fire on students and staff, killing 17. Cruz, who had been expelled from the school a year prior, had made documented threats against other students and had a history of psychological problems. The FBI had even been alerted to his behavior. Yet, he was still able to walk into a store and legally purchase a firearm. After the tragedy, the state implemented a red flag law.

Back in 2014, California enacted a similar law following a tragic shooting in Isla Vista. 22-year-old Elliot Rodger was responsible for taking the life of six people after law enforcement failed to respond to several intervention attempts and warnings by his parents and counselors that he was potentially dangerous.

Now a group of elected officials in Pennsylvania, in addition to law enforcement agencies, are attempting to pass their own “red flag” gun law — already instituted in 14 states as well as Washington, D.C. — to prevent tragedies like this from happening. These policies would enable individuals or law enforcement agencies to request "extreme risk protection orders” in order to remove guns from anyone who could be seen as a threat to themselves or others.

No matter where you stand on gun control, it only seems logical to keep firearms away from people who have a history of violence or are threatening violence on others.

Stephanie Miller’s death could possibly have been prevented if Brian Kennedy had been “red flagged” by law officials, preventing his legal purchase of a semi-automatic weapon.

This country has been torn on whether or not to amend the constitutional right to bear arms for decades now. In recent years, we have seen an uptick in gun deaths — in fact, the CDC recently revealed that gun deaths have risen to the highest level they’ve been in 40 years. There’s a good chance that by preventing at-risk individuals from legally purchasing these weapons we could potentially decrease that number incrementally, saving numerous lives in the process.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Democracy

Appalachian mom's speech on Kentucky's proposed abortion ban is a must-hear for everyone

Danielle Kirk is speaking up for those often overlooked in our cultural debates.

Canva, courtesy of Danielle Kirk

Appalachian mom gives passionate speech.

Many people felt a gut punch when the Supreme Court issued its decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the decades-old Roe v. Wade decision that protected a woman's right to an abortion. However, for some this was a call to action.

Danielle Kirk, 27, a mom of two and an activist on TikTok, used her voice in an attempt to educate the people that make decisions in her small town. Kirk lives in Kentucky where a trigger law came into effect immediately after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Being a former foster child, she knew she had to say something. Kirk spoke exclusively with Upworthy about why she decided to speak up.

Keep ReadingShow less

Memories of childhood get lodged in the brain, emerging when you least expect.

There are certain pleasurable sights, smells, sounds and tastes that fade into the rear-view mirror as we grow from being children to adults. But on a rare occasion, we’ll come across them again and it's like a portion of our brain that’s been hidden for years expresses itself, creating a huge jolt of joy.

It’s wonderful to experience this type of nostalgia but it often leaves a bittersweet feeling because we know there are countless more sensations that may never come into our consciousness again.

Nostalgia is fleeting and that's a good thing because it’s best not to live in the past. But it does remind us that the wonderful feeling of freedom, creativity and fun from our childhood can still be experienced as we age.

A Reddit user by the name of agentMICHAELscarnTLM posed a question to the online forum that dredged up countless memories and experiences that many had long forgotten. He asked a simple question, “What’s something you can bring up right now to unlock some childhood nostalgia for the rest of us?”

Keep ReadingShow less