We don't need other countries to prove gun laws work. Our own states show the same thing.

As the U.S. grapples with a return to mass shootings, debates about gun legislation have once again taken center stage. Mass shootings tend to be a catalyst for these conversations, but they're actually only one part of the issue. The U.S. is a total outlier among high-income nations when it comes to gun violence in general. No other country even comes close to our gun death rates.

One of the most common arguments against gun legislation is that gun control laws simply don't work. Criminals don't follow laws, restrictions just punish responsible gun owners, etc.

We often look to other nations that have gun laws that appear to work. Comparisons between nations is tricky, though, and we don't even have to do that. We have plenty of evidence that gun laws work right here in our own country.

(I hear the "What about Chicago?!?" question echoing already—I promise, we'll get to that in a minute.)

In the U.S., most gun laws exist at the state level, so we have 50 sets of data we can examine to see how effective these laws are. The fact that there are no border checks between states muddies the waters a little bit (Chicago being a prime example—again, we'll get there in a minute), but there actually are significant differences in gun death rates between states.


For example, in 2019, Massachusetts had a firearm mortality rate of 3.4 deaths per 100,000 population. Alaska had 24.4 per 100,000—a full eight times higher. And the next two states on both ends come in at 3.9 and 24.2, so it's not like Massachusetts and Alaska are outliers. The death rate pretty steadily increases as you go down the firearm mortality rate list, which you can see from the CDC here.

So what does this have to do with gun laws? Well, let's take a look at the states with the highest and lowest gun death rates and see how they stack up against the gun laws in those states. (These gun law rankings come from the pro-second amendment AZ Defenders' list of "Best States for Responsible Gun Owners," based on how loose or how strict state gun laws are. The rankings for gun death rates come from the CDC.)

Among the top 10 states for strict gun laws, the top seven of them are also the top seven states for lowest gun death rates. If that's a coincidence, it's a pretty big one.

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What about the states with the least restrictive gun laws? Of the top 10 on that list, five of them are also in the top 10 for highest gun death rates.

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If you directly compare all 50 states based on of strictness of gun laws and gun death rates, the pattern couldn't be clearer. States with stricter gun legislation tend to have lower gun death rates and vice versa.

It's also worth noting that states we might expect to have high gun death rates because of their big urban centers—namely New York and California—actually have some of the lowest gun death rates in the country. And states that have mostly rural populations have the highest gun death rates. Huh.

Don't those rural states just have more guns, though? Well, yes. There is a clear correlation between the rate of gun ownership and the rate of gun deaths by state as well. (Which pretty much nixes the "If everyone had a gun, we'd all be safer" argument.)

But aren't a lot of those numbers suicides? Yes. Nearly two-thirds. Guns are absolutely the most immediate and lethal method of ending one's life, and the mere presence of a firearm in the home dramatically increases the chances of dying by suicide. Gun ownership is considered a risk factor for suicide, so if we want to reduce both suicides and gun death rates overall, we need to be honest about how the ubiquitousness of guns in the U.S. contributes to both problems and do what we can to mitigate it.

Based on the stats we've seen here, if we want to lower gun death rates in the U.S., we should either enact federal gun legislation or try to reduce the number of guns overall somehow. Personally, I think the former is preferable and more realistic.

What about Chicago, though? Don't they have super strict gun laws and super high gun death rates?

Actually, not really and not really. Chicago used to have stricter gun laws, but its firearms ban was lifted by the Supreme Court in 2010, and its concealed carry ban was lifted in 2012. And while Chicago has seen a tragic uptick in shootings this past year, a simple search shows that it hasn't even been in the top 10 cities for murder rates on any list for years. In fact, it often doesn't even make the top 20. While the numbers themselves are jarring and every shooting is a tragedy, the numbers are so large because Chicago's population is huge, not because it's the gun violence capital of the country. It's not even close.

And having lived in the Chicago area myself, I've seen firsthand how easy it is to drive 30 minutes to Indiana, where gun laws are looser than they are in Chicago or Illinois in general. In fact, according to The 2017 Gun Trace Report, the majority of guns used in crimes in Chicago come from out of state, which is all the more reason we need federal laws that cover the whole country. Having fifty different sets of laws when there are no checks at state borders is simply ludicrous if we want those laws to be the most effective.

We have plenty of evidence that gun legislation works when it's enacted and enforced across a wide geographic area. Other countries prove it. Our own states prove it. And the vast majority of Americans, including most gun owners, want it.

It's long past time to make it happen.


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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

Ndakasi and Virunga National Park ranger André Bauma.

Fourteen years ago, Ndakasi the mountain gorilla was found clinging to her dead mother in the Congo after bushmeat hunters wiped out her entire family. This week it was announced that she recently passed away in the arms of Virunga National Park ranger André Bauma, the man who rescued her.

Bauma served as Ndakasi's caretaker since he brought her to the park's Senkwekwe Center, where she was rehabilitated along with another orphaned gorilla named Ndeke. Unable to be safely returned to the wild, Ndakasi lived her life in Virunga, where mountain gorilla conservation is a priority.

The park shared a touching photo and announcement of Ndakasi's passing on Facebook. The gorilla had been suffering from a prolonged illness, and her condition had rapidly deteriorated. A photo shows Bauma sitting on a blanket leaning up against the wall with Ndakasi lying next to him, her head on his chest and her toes gripping his boot.

"Ndakasi took her final breath in the loving arms of her caretaker and lifelong friend, André Bauma," reads the post.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!