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.


Images courtesy of Letters of Love
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When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

This article originally appeared on 07.22.15



"So just recently I went out on a Match.com date, and it was fantastic," begins Dr. Danielle Sheypuk in her TEDx Talk.

If you've ever been on a bunch of Match.com dates, that opening line might make you do a double take. How does one get so lucky?!

Not Dr. Sheypuck's actual date.

Not Dr. Sheypuck's actual date. Photo by Thinkstock.


But don't get too jealous. Things quickly went downhill two dates later, as most Match.com dates ultimately do. This time, however, the reason may not be something that you've ever experienced. Intrigued? I was too. So here's the story.Gorgeous!

Gorgeous! Photo from Dr. Sheypuk's Instagram account, used with permission.

She's a licensed clinical psychologist, an advocate, and a model — among other things. She's also been confined to a wheelchair since childhood. And that last fact is what did her recent date in.

On their third date over a romantic Italian dinner, Sheypuk noticed that he was sitting farther away from her than usual. And then, out of nowhere, he began to ask the following questions:

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

@elenisabracos on TikTok

Look, it’s a sad situation for anyone to hear that Adele will not be gracing the stage any time soon. The beloved singer woefully announced on Instagram last Friday (Jan 21) that her planned residency in Las Vegas “wasn’t ready” due to coronavirus. Half of her crew had been infected, making it “impossible to finish the show.”

But for one fan in particular, who has tried—and failed miserably—to catch Adele live on three separate occasions, the news hit particularly hard. Luckily, her sense of humor proves that any tragedy can turn into comedy gold.

This story, with all its hilarious twists and turns, is quite the delightful saga. And though it doesn’t erase all the gutting disappointments left from pandemic cancellations, it does serve as wholesome entertainment.

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This article originally appeared on August 14, 2016


Time travel back to 1905.

Back in 1905, a book called "The Apples of New York" was published by the New York State Department of Agriculture. It featured hundreds of apple varieties of all shapes, colors, and sizes, including Thomas Jefferson's personal favorite, the Esopus Spitzenburg.






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