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gun legislation, Uvalde, school shooting, Chris Murphy

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy asked his Senate colleagues the questions millions of Americans have after a mass shooting.

Another school shooting. Another mass murder of innocent children. They were elementary school kids this time. There were 18 children killed—so far—this time.

The fact that I can say "this time" is enraging, but that's the routine nature of mass shootings in the U.S. It happened in Texas this time. At least three adults were killed this time. The shooter was a teenager this time.

The details this time may be different than the last time and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that. But there's one thing all mass shootings have in common. No, it's not mental illness. It's not racism or misogyny or religious extremism. It's not bad parenting or violent video games or lack of religion.

Some of those things have been factors in some shootings, but the single common denominator in every mass shooting is guns. That's not a secret. It's not controversial. It's fact. The only thing all mass shootings have in common is guns.


Other countries have guns, but the United States has a lot more and it's not even close. The U.S. is the only country in the world that has more guns than people (a whopping 120 guns for every 100 people). The next highest country for gun ownership (the Falkland Islands) has half the per capita gun numbers we have.

Not only do we have far more guns than anywhere else, but we have relatively few federal laws regulating those guns. We have state laws, but they vary widely and that makes a difference—so much so that research shows some states are negatively impacted by neighboring states' lax gun laws.

(And yes, there is a correlation between gun death rates and gun laws—states with stricter laws have lower gun death rates and vice versa. These stats are easy to look up and they're also gathered in this article and in this article.)

However, I know from writing about this topic for years that facts and stats don't seem to matter. Nothing seems to matter—that was clear after first graders were massacred at Sandy Hook Elementary and Congress did nothing. We see shooting after shooting and nothing changes.

It's exhausting and baffling, which is the energy Senator Chris Murphy brought to the Senate floor shortly after the news of the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting broke. Murphy represented the district where the Sandy Hook shooting took place in 2012 and has advocated for Congress to take up gun legislation for years. In this speech to his Senate colleagues, he channeled the emotions of millions of Americans who are begging for lawmakers to do something.

The "code word" that the kids who survived Sandy Hook had to use to help them get through the memories and trauma of what they experienced is just too much.

"Why do you spend all this time running for the United States Senate? Why do you go through all the hassle of getting this job, of putting yourself in a position of authority if your answer is that, as the slaughter increases, as our kids run for their lives, we do nothing? What are we doing? Why are you here, if not to solve a problem as existential as this?"

Murphy asked the questions so many of us want to scream at Congress after each mass shooting. The majority of Americans support commonsense gun legislation. Certain gun laws, such as universal background checks, have the support of 83% of Americans.

Murphy's plea to "find a path forward here" may be fruitless, but it's right. Congress needs to act. State laws are not effective when an issue affects the whole country and state borders are just imaginary lines on a map.

Lawmakers in Texas, which tops all states for gun ownership, recently relaxed the state's already loose gun laws to allow anyone 21 and older to carry a gun without a permit and without any training. Texas leadership has bragged about its gun culture and taken pride in "protecting the Second Amendment," despite there being nothing in that amendment that prohibits the regulation of firearms.

When some states want to live in the Wild West, with a firearm free-for-all and baseless claims that a "good guy with a gun" will solve our gun violence problem, we need sensible people to at least attempt to protect America from its worst instincts. It is entirely possible to have the right to gun ownership and also have sensible gun laws and anyone who says otherwise is full of it. We have plenty of examples of it in countries around the world, as well as in states within our own country.

What we can't continue to do is nothing, because it's obviously not working.

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.

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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?”

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