This handgun is an abomination, but the fact that people are defending it is even worse

A toddler found a gun in the back of a car and shot a 30-year-old woman in the back in Louisiana. A 4-year-old found a handgun and shot himself in Missouri. Another 4-year-old found a gun and did the same thing in Colorado. A 10-year-old in Pennsylvania accidentally shot and killed himself in front of his 8-year-old sister after finding his family's loaded gun.

That's just a sampling of headlines from just the past few weeks in the U.S. According to Everytown Research, a child was killed in an accidental shooting every day prior to the pandemic, and those numbers surged by nearly 30% in 2020. And that's just the kids who are killed. Countless more are injured by accidental gunfire.

Laws exist to make sure toy guns don't look exactly like real guns (orange tips are supposed to be the giveaway), but not vice versa. In light of the fact that gun violence is the second leading cause of death for children under age 19 in the U.S., the idea of someone intentionally making a real gun look like a toy is unfathomable. The idea of marketing and selling and a real gun that looks like a toy is even worse. And the idea of celebrating a gun that looks like a toy is so weird and disturbing it's not even funny.


That didn't stop Utah custom gun maker Culver Precision from doing just that, though. The company shared a photo of its "Block19"—a Glock handgun covered in LEGO-style brick pieces—on its social media pages. So bright and colorful, right? "SUPER FUN," as the company described it, according to the Washington Post.

"We have been building guns out of blocks for the last 30 years and wanted to flip the script to aggravate Mom," the Culver Precision website read, prior to the listing being removed. "There is a satisfaction that can ONLY be found in the shooting sports and this is just one small way to break the rhetoric from Anti-Gun folks and draw attention to the fact that the shooting sports are SUPER FUN! Here's the thing. Guns are fun. Shooting is fun. 30 rounds full auto is fun."

Maybe that's true, for some people. And maybe this prototype was made as a joke "to aggravate Mom." Well, mission accomplished. This mom is aggravated, because I don't think there's anything funny about making a Glock look like an actual toy when kids already have a hard time differentiating between a toy gun and a real gun and American children are being shot every day.

LEGO apparently doesn't find it funny either, since they sent Culver Precision a cease and desist letter. (Worth noting that the company's posts were careful not to mention LEGO by name.)

Culver Precision president Brandon Scott spoke to the Post about the gun, saying he'd sold less than 20 of them, but that the majority of online commenters thought it was "super cool," "hilarious," or a "10/10 meme gun." Perusing the comments on their social media posts, it does appear that their fans see absolutely nothing wrong with a Glock that looks like a LEGO toy. It feels like an alternate universe where down is up, left is right, and preschoolers don't shoot themeslves or their loved ones every damn day.

Scott told the Post that the company would not be responsible if a child got hold of this kind of gun and killed or harmed themselves or others, that parents are responsible for keeping their guns away from kids, but also that parents shouldn't be held criminally liable in such a scenario.

In other words, Scott is living in a world divorced from reality. Yes, adults should be responsible gun owners. But far too often, they are not, and children pay the ultimate price. Sure, shooting might be fun for some people. But the last time I checked, an adult pastime that is actually fun doesn't need to be dressed up in a childlike way. (In fact, in most scenarios that would just be considered weird.) Absolutely, gun ownership is a constitutional right. But the entire gun rights argument for opposing government regulations hinges on responsible gun ownership, and creating a gun to look like LEGO toy is one of the most irresponsible things I've ever seen a gun enthusiast do.

As I'm sitting here writing this, just now, my 17-year-old looked over my shoulder at the photo of the Block19. Our brief conversation about it:

"What is that?"

"It's a Glock covered in LEGOs."

"That's a real gun?"

"Yep."

"Doesn't it look like a toy, though?"

"Yep."

"That is SO freaking stupid."

"Yep."

It really is that simple.

I'm well aware that people collect guns and that there are guns for display and guns for art purposes, and I'm also aware that this gun isn't being marketed as a serious weapon. But that in and of itself is a problem, because a gun is a serious weapon. Responsible gun owners acknowledge that fact, respect it, and teach it. They don't superglue LEGOs onto a Glock because they know that making a serious weapon look like a toy removes the seriousness from it and creates a confusing message.

You think shooting is fun? Have at it. But don't pretend that making a gun look like a toy isn't incredibly irresponsible when far more preschoolers are killed by guns than on duty police officers in the United States. It's a bad look and absolutely flies in the face of every "responsible gun owner" argument used to argue against common sense gun legislation.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

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Processed food gets a bad rap. But without it, we might have never been able to even say the word “food.” Or “friendly,” or “fun” or “velociraptor” for that matter. Why is that?

“F’s” and “v’s” belong to a group of sounds known as labiodentals. They happen when you raise your bottom lip to touch your top teeth and are used in more than half of today’s human language. But science suggests we didn’t always have this linguistic ability.

As hunter gatherers, our ancestors ate a diet that was minimally processed and required more effort to chew. As a result, by adolescence their teeth would develop what’s called an edge-to-edge bite, where the jaw is elongated so that both the bottom and top teeth are completely flush with one another.

Cue the Neolithic period, where widespread agriculture meant more soft foods like stew and bread and less laborious chewing. Over time, the slight overbite that most people are born with stayed preserved, because chewing was less of an arduous process.
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"Veteran" mom and "new" mom parent differently.

When a couple has their first child, they start out with the greatest of intentions and expectations. The child will only eat organic food. They will never watch TV or have screen time and will always stay clean.

But soon, reality sets in and if they have more kids, they'll probably be raised with a lot less attention. As a result, first-born kids turn out a bit differently than their younger siblings.

"Rules are a bit more rigid, attention and validation is directed and somewhat excessive," Niro Feliciano, LCSW, a psychotherapist and anxiety specialist, told Parents. "As a result, firstborns tend to be leaders, high achievers, people-pleasing, rule-following and conscientious, several of the qualities that tend to predict success."

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