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Requiring a criminal background check for all gun sales is the single most effective policy for keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people and saving lives.

One of the key reasons America has such a high rate of gun violence is that we have weak laws that are riddled with loopholes, which let dangerous people obtain guns. No gap is more glaring than the one in our federal background checks law, which allows felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill to purchase firearms at gun shows and online without undergoing a background check.

In states that require background checks for all handgun sales 47% fewer women are shot to death by their intimate partners, there are 47% fewer firearm suicides, and 53% fewer law enforcement officers are shot to death by handguns. Simply put, background checks save lives.

Existing Loopholes in the Background Check System

The Gun Control Act of 1968 made it illegal for prohibited purchasers, such as convicted felons and the dangerously mentally ill, to purchase or possess firearms, and in 1993, the Brady Act strengthened this law by requiring background checks on gun purchases. But the Brady Act only requires background checks for sales by licensed firearms dealers. Unlicensed sellers, whether they do business online, at gun shows, or from the trunk of their car, are not required to conduct background checks on gun buyers.

The FBI uses the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to determine whether a potential buyer is prohibited from purchasing firearms, and over 90 percent background checks are done instantly . However, if a background check requires further investigation by the FBI and that investigation is not completed within three days, the purchase is allowed to proceed by default . This is how the gunman who murdered nine people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston obtained his weapon, even though he should have been prohibited.

The Effectiveness of Background Checks

Since the NICS system has been in place, over 225 million background checks have been conducted , most instantaneously. SHIRTS Blouses El La Inexpensive Cheap Price Discount Outlet Free Shipping Fashionable Purchase Sale Online 06dYgQdi
since passage of the Brady Act in 1993.

The correlation between strong background check laws, chief among them universal background checks, and reduced gun death rates is well-documented.

For example, in 2007 Missouri repealed its permit-to-purchase handgun law , which required background checks on all handgun sales, and saw its gun homicide rate jump 25%, its share of crime guns recovered in-state grew 25%, and its share of crime guns recovered within two years of their original sale double, a key indicator of crime gun trafficking.

Conversely, Connecticut saw its gun homicide rate drop 40% and its gun suicide rate drop 15% after implementing a permit-to-purchase handgun law that required applicants to pass a background check in order to purchase a handgun from any seller.

Who Supports Background Checks?

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© 2018 - Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence

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Grand Challenges Date open: 27 Apr 2018 Date closed: 22 Jun 2018 - 11:30am PDT

The Grand Challenge

Eliane Ubalijoro, McGill University, GCE Grantee

Bill Gates

Bruce Gellin, Sabin Vaccine Institute


2018 marks the 100-year anniversary of the most severe influenza pandemic in recorded history, which killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide – more than the total deaths caused by the First World War. The subsequent influenza pandemics of 1957, 1968, 1977, and 2009, though milder than the 1918 pandemic, demonstrated the potential of influenza viruses to cause excessive morbidity, mortality, and, more generally, severe disruptions of healthcare systems. Clearly, the threat of pandemic influenza is very real. Also, influenza viruses pose a significant threat to humankind, with seasonal influenza disease leading to an estimated 290,000 – 650,000 deaths each year.

While vaccination remains the best tool for prevention of disease, the current influenza vaccines significantly underperform compared to the effective and durable vaccines used against other vaccine-preventable diseases around the world. One key reason for this comparatively reduced effectiveness is the influenza virus’ propensity for generating mutations in its surface antigens – the very targets of today’s vaccines. Furthermore, the predominant technologies for influenza vaccine production necessitate a protracted and inefficient manufacturing cycle and a huge supporting mechanism for biennial flu vaccine strain recommendations; by the time vaccines are ready for distribution – 6+ months after strain determination – the viruses circulating during next season may not match up well with those strains in vaccines leading to less than optimal vaccine effectiveness. Although other factors also contribute to poor vaccine effectiveness, the annual formulation changes, the cost of and limited access to current influenza vaccines (regardless of how well matched they are to circulating strains), and need for annual vaccinations are barriers to protecting against global seasonal influenza, particularly among those in low- and middle-income countries. Furthermore, at best they may only offer partial or minimal protection against emerging pandemic strains. Clearly, there is an unmet public health need for a transformative, game-changing universal influenza vaccine that will protect against all influenza strains for longer duration, alleviating the need for annual formulations and vaccinations and leading to a panacea for tackling pandemic and seasonal influenza disease threats.

Please see the Impatient Optimists blog: Ending the Pandemic Threat: A Grand Challenge for Universal Influenza Vaccine Development .


To find a game changing, universal solution to all these challenges, the Bill Melinda Gates Foundation and the Page Family are launching the "Universal Influenza Vaccine Development Grand Challenge" during the centenary year of the 1918 flu pandemic. The goal of this Grand Challenge is to identify novel, transformative concepts that will lead to development of universal influenza vaccines offering protection from morbidity and mortality caused by all subtypes of circulating and emerging (drifted and shifted) Influenza A subtype viruses and Influenza B lineage viruses for at least three to five years. It is envisaged that such a universal influenza vaccine would address the threat from both seasonal and pandemic influenza, thus alleviating the need for annual seasonal influenza vaccination campaigns, averting significant global morbidity and mortality, and better preparing the world for the next influenza pandemic.

While other funders are supporting development of universal Influenza vaccines, three things set this Grand Challenge apart. We seek to fund ideas that are bold and innovative, bridging the funding 'valley of death' to translate these novel approaches into products ready for human clinical trials. We also aim to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-fertilization of ideas from outside the traditional influenza research community. Third, we seek completely transformative approaches rather than incremental research.

Our collective belief is that innovation is catalyzed through rigorous collaboration and enriching of ecosystems, and we hope this Grand Challenge will stimulate creative thinking beyond the traditional influenza community. Although not exhaustive, examples of researchers and disciplines we would like to see further integrated and supported include computational and systems biologists, virologists, immunologists, bioinformatics, artificial intelligence, deep learning, machine learning, the HIV/AIDS and cancer immunotherapy research communities, etc. Fundamentally, we are looking for unconventional approaches that effectively drive or harness immune responses in desired ways and develop universal influenza vaccines that are ready to start clinical trials by 2021 .


All proposals must be aligned with the Gates Foundation’s intervention Target Product Profile (iTPP) . The iTPP (detailed in the Supporting Materials) describes the desired characteristics of a universal influenza vaccine. Most importantly, new vaccines should have the potential to be used in all age groups around the world, especially in developing countries. We are looking for affordable, effective vaccines that are suitable for delivery through existing immunization programs in-country, which has implications for product presentation and stability as well as for dosing route and schedule. The vaccines need to be broadly protective across Influenza A and B strains for a minimum of three to five years. Technologies will need to be scalable to meet worldwide demand.

We are looking for proposals that:

Please note: grantees will have access to a wide-range of Gates Foundation-funded resources and technology platforms to support their projects

Examples of what we’re looking for may fall into broad categories:

We also would be very happy to receive proposals that describe approaches for employing multiple interventions in combination.

In addition, we may entertain concept proposals related to use of DNA/RNA based delivery of longer acting universal influenza monoclonal antibody for passive prophylaxis or use of such monoclonals for exploring appropriate epitopes for universal influenza vaccine, if generally aligned with our iTPP.

We will NOT consider funding for :


Pilot awards ($250,000 up to $ 2 million)

This request for proposals intends to fund pilot awards of up to USD $2 million over 2 years, with the anticipation that one or more pilot projects, on demonstration of promising proof-of-concept data (e.g., from animal models), may be invited to apply for a full award up to USD $10 million. Full awards would be intended to fund IND-enabling and clinical studies.

Pilot awards do not include a requirement for an industry or translation partner but such partnerships would still be welcome. Industry is also welcome to apply directly for the pilot award. Successful pilot award recipients will have the opportunity to apply for additional funding, which could include grants, program related investments and/or contracts and must include a biopharmaceutical industry or other translational partner.

We reserve the right to determine eligibility for subsequent funding for this call based on these characteristics.

Suggested Reading

Please note: these suggested readings obviously do not represent an exhaustive list of all universal influenza vaccine activities and concepts and very few, if any, are likely to meet all the requirements of our iTPP (detailed in the Supporting Materials). We include these for illustrative purposes only and encourage applicants to understand think beyond the ideas discussed below.

1. Arun Kumar, . (2018) Novel Platforms for the Development of a Universal Influenza Vaccine. . (doi:10.3389/fimmu.2018.00600) .

2. James E. Crowe, Jr. (2017) Is it Possible to Develop a “Universal” Influenza Virus Vaccine? Potential for a Universal Influenza Vaccine. . (doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a029496).

3. Sarah F. Andrews, . (2017) Is it Possible to Develop a “Universal” Influenza Virus Vaccine? Immunogenetic Considerations Underlying B-Cell Biology in the Development of a Pan-Subtype Influenza A Vaccine Targeting the Hemagglutinin Stem. . (doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a029413).

4. Florian Krammer, . (2017) Is it Possible to Develop a “Universal” Influenza Virus Vaccine? Toward a Universal Influenza Virus Vaccine: Potential Target Antigens and Critical Aspects for Vaccine Development. . (doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a028845).

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7. Erin Sparrow, (2016) Passive Immunization for Influenza through Antibody Therapies, a review of the pipeline, challenges and potential applications. . (doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2016.08.057).

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Grand Challenges in Global Health – the First Ten Years Andrew Nusca, “Why We Need a Universal Flu Vaccine”, Fortune, 2018

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