Congress finally did something to stop gun violence. Something ridiculous.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

It’s been about three weeks since Nikolas Cruz stormed into the halls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with an AR-15 rifle and killed 17 people.

The Parkland shooting placed student survivors center stage in the latest national debate about gun violence in America. After a series of brave demonstrations and town halls demanding accountability from the NRA and lawmakers, a group of senators are actually reintroducing a bipartisan bill to curb gun violence.

The “Terrorist Firearms Prevention Act,” also known as the “No Fly, No Buy” bill, is sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.). The bill was first introduced in 2016 — by Senate Democrats — after Omar Mateen, who was on the terrorism watch list for 10 months and was still able to purchase a firearm, opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando.


Now, in response to the Parkland shooting, the bill is making its way through Congress once again. The legislation in question would prohibit people on the Transportation Security Administration’s “No Fly” list from buying a gun. At first glance, the bill sounds reasonable — right?

Photo via Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images.

But here’s the thing: The bill would not have prevented Cruz — or any other recent mass shooters — from purchasing his firearm and subsequently unleashing bloodshed.

While lawmakers reintroduced the gun control measure in response to the backlash from  the shooting, the bill does not apply to Cruz since he was never on a no-fly list.

In January, according to the New York Times, the FBI received word that Cruz had purchased a firearm and had been discussing about plotting a school shooting. The anonymous tipster told the FBI through a hotline that Cruz has a desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts.” But rather than forward the tip to the Miami FBI office, the bureau ignored it and failed to investigate Cruz.

And since Cruz was never investigated, he was not referred to the Terrorist Screening Center where it holds the no-fly list database. This is hardly the first time either.

Jared Loughner, the man who shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona, was not on a terrorism watch list. Adam Lanza, who killed 20 children in the Sandy Hook shooting, was not on the terrorist watch list. Dylann Roof, who killed nine black churchgoers in Charleston, and Robert Dear, who opened fire at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic, were also not on the list.

Photo via Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images.

And not only does this bill miss the real troubling factors of mass shooters, it's racist.

Instead of devoting time, resources, research and programs addressing domestic violence, toxic masculinity, and white supremacy, (which are all common threads with a long list of white mass shooters in the last four decades) the bill gives credibility to an inherently racist and reckless list that encompasses more than 1.5 million names within the last five years without proper screening and investigation.

It also disproportionately targets people of color. It historically targeted notable civil rights activists like Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali, and Malcolm X. The ACLU has released statements condemning that the majority of individuals in the list are either Arab, South Asian, and/or Muslim — many of which are law-abiding U.S. Citizens. In fact, Dearborn, Michigan, which is one of the most populated Arab neighborhoods in the country, was second — only behind New York City — for the city with the most names on the watch list. One of the people from Dearborn on the list is a 7-month-old baby.

But more than just being racist, the No Fly, No Buy bill strengthens the false belief that the people listed in the list are there for reasonable suspicion or are probable national security threats. It adds further stigma and suspicion on our fellow neighbors — who happen to have darker skin, come from a different country, and/or worship in a different way — without any effective measure to end gun violence.

Photo via Win McNamee/Getty Images.

One bill is never going to end mass shootings.

A gun control bill is like putting a Band-Aid on a bullet hole. It takes a lot more than just introducing a bill. It requires more citizens like Cameron Kasky, a student survivor for the Parkland shooting, to demand lawmakers like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to promise to never accept financial contributions from the NRA. It also requires lawmakers to actually agree and act on that promise.

To end gun violence, law enforcement authorities must place a lot resources into researching and investigating trends of domestic violence and white supremacy. They must also take reports of domestic violence and extremism seriously, not only when it’s perpetrated by a brown and black person. It requires judicial powers to review the legal framework on domestic violence, right-wing extremism, and white supremacy.

But the onus also falls on all of us too. We must continue to take the ills of toxic masculinity seriously and start productive conversations on the matter. We must be active, vocal, and strong in combating the ills of xenophobia, gendered-violence, and white supremacy. And if you can’t do that, then one of the most helpful ways to assist in the fight is simply through donating funds to organizations like the Brady Campaign and signal boost activists like Stoneman Douglas student survivors like Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg. They’re effectively taking a stand for something our previous generations failed to do.

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

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Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


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Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


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Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


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Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

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L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

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Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

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All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.