Last month was the first March in 18 years without a single school shooting in America
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The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted just about every aspect of American life. But there have been a few unintentional positive consequences from the nationwide lockdown.

Air pollution in the U.S. has dropped significantly, giving us a glimpse at what a post-carbon world may look like. NASA revealed that NO₂ pollution over New York and other major metropolitan areas in northeastern USA was 30% lower in March 2020.

Americans are also adopting shelter dogs and cats like never before. Since coronavirus first landed in the U.S. there have been countless stories of shelters running out of pets.


There is also one massive unintended consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic: March 2020 was the first March since 2002 that there wasn't a school shooting in the United States.

Most schools in the U.S. were shut down in early March to stop the spread of the virus.

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In March 2002, a 13-year-old student brought a gun to school along with a hit list, but was subdued by a school resource offer before he had the chance to pull the trigger.

According to Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization that tracks gun violence in the U.S., there were seven shootings on school campuses in March 2020. However, four were accidental discharges, one took place between adults on high school football field, and two occurred on college campuses, but involved no students.

It's a chilling fact that to have a school-shooting-free March in the U.S. every school in the nation has to be shut down.

According to a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, gun violence is the leading cause of death for children in the U.S. right after car crashes.

Everytown Research reports that there have been at least 33 incidents of gunfire on school grounds in 2020, resulting in ten deaths and 15 injuries. In 2019, there were at least 130 incidents of gunfire on school grounds, resulting in 32 deaths and 77 injuries.

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Gun sales have skyrocketed in the U.S. since the first cases of COVID-19 appeared in the U.S. The FBI conducted 3.7 million background checks in March 2020, the highest total since the instant background check program began in 1998.

Over 2 million guns were sold in March alone.

The figures are the largest since December 2015 when the Obama Administration raised the possibility of restricting assault rifles after a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.

The rise in gun sales raises fears of an increase in shootings down the road.

"When this pandemic ends and we emerge from this physical distancing reality, the guns will remain," said Guns Down America executive director Igor Volsky. "Will there be increased mass shootings, school shootings, shootings at home, at work, at concerts?"

The unintended consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have given us a vision of the future that we may not have had otherwise. A future where children aren't gunned down in school and our air is clean to breathe.

Hopefully, these realizations will result in a new path forward where we can all breathe a little more easily — especially our kids.

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June 26, 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Charter. Think of the Charter as the U.N.'s wedding vows, in which the institution solemnly promises to love and protect not one person, but the world. It's a union most of us can get behind, especially in light of recent history. We're less than seven months into 2020, and already it's established itself as a year of reckoning. The events of this year—ecological disaster, economic collapse, political division, racial injustice, and a pandemic—the complex ways those events feed into and amplify each other—have distressed and disoriented most of us, altering our very experience of time. Every passing month creaks under the weight of a decade's worth of history. Every quarantined day seems to bleed into the next.

But the U.N. was founded on the principles of peace, dignity, and equality (the exact opposite of the chaos, degradation, and inequality that seem to have become this year's ringing theme). Perhaps that's why, in its 75th year, the institution feels all the more precious and indispensable. When the U.N. proposed a "global conversation" in January 2020 (feels like thousands of years ago), many leapt to participate—200,000 within three months. The responses to surveys and polls, in addition to research mapping and media analysis, helped the U.N. pierce through the clamor—the roar of bushfire, the thunder of armed conflict, the ceaseless babble of talking heads—to actually hear what matters: our collective human voice.

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When I found out I was pregnant in October 2018, I had planned to keep the news a secret from family for a little while — but my phone seemed to have other ideas.

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Good thing my family wasn't looking over my shoulder while I was on my phone or my secret would have been ruined.

I'm certainly not alone in feeling like online ads can read your mind.

When I started asking around, it seemed like everyone had their own similar story: Brian Kelleher told me that when he and his wife met, they started getting ads for wedding rings and bridal shops within just a few weeks. Tech blogger Snezhina Piskov told me that she started getting ads for pocket projectors after discussing them in Messenger with her colleagues. Meanwhile Lauren Foley, a writer, told me she started getting ads for Happy Socks after seeing one of their shops when she got off the bus one day.

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Two years ago, I got off the phone after an interview and cried my eyes out. I'd just spent an hour talking to Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that helps fight child sex trafficking, and I just couldn't take it.

Ballard told me about how the training to go undercover as a child predator nearly broke him. He told me an eerie story of a trafficker who could totally compartmentalize, showing Ballard photos of kids he had for sale, then switching gears to proudly show him a photo of his own daughter on her bicycle, just as any parent would. He told me about how lucrative child trafficking is—how a child can bring in three or four times as much as a female prostitute—and how Americans are the industry's biggest consumers.

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Kids say the darnedest things and, if you're a parent, you know that can make for some embarrassing situations. Every parent has had a moment when their child has said something unintentionally inappropriate to a stranger and they prayed they wouldn't take it the wrong way.

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