Teaching About Gun Control

Introduction

Gun control refers to “the regulation on the sale and use of firearms” (Oxford Dictionary). In the United States, gun control is controversial because gun ownership is protected by the Constitution but gun violence is much more common than in other developed countries. Those who support increased gun control in the U.S. argue that limiting access to guns will reduce the amount of gun violence in the country and ultimately save many lives. On the other side of the debate, opponents of increased gun control argue that limiting access to guns will prevent citizens from being able to defend themselves against armed criminals. Teaching about gun control is important because with the prevalence of gun violence in the United States, gun control will continue to be a hot topic. Students should be given the opportunity to learn about their right to bear arms, current gun control laws, and gun violence in the U.S. so they can decide where they stand in the debate on gun control.

Resources

There are many resources available online for teaching students about gun control. In addition to the lesson plans, articles, and informational sites below, any current news related to gun control can be used by educators to help students better understand the topic. Educators who also want to teach their students about gun violence should take a look at U4SC’s topic resource Teaching About Gun Violence.

Lesson Plans

  1. Educator Guide – The Battle Over Gun Control: KQED provides a guide for educators on the battle over gun control. The guide contains a topic background, multimedia teaching resources, guiding questions, focus questions, a pro/con summary of key issues, implementation strategies, and broader connections.
  2. The Lowdown | Gun Violence, Gun Control, Gun Rights – Where We Go from Here Lesson Plan: PBS LearningMedia has put together a lesson on gun violence, gun control, and gun rights. In the lesson, students will analyze data around gun deaths and gun violence in the United States and the efforts to decrease the deaths by firearms. Students will also better understand and reflect on the arguments for and against gun control.
  3. Gun Control: The Morningside Center has a collection of lesson plans on gun control. A few topics of lessons in this collection include strategies for addressing the shooting in California, a look at gun control laws, and students taking the lead after a school shooting.

Articles

  1. Biden Takes Initial Steps to Address Gun Violence: The New York Times has published an article on the initial steps President Biden has taken to address gun violence after two mass shootings in Georgia and Colorado killed a total of 18 people. Biden’s most significant step was the restriction of “ghost guns,” which are unregulated firearms that anyone can buy and build without a background check. For educators who want their students to understand how the current administration is responding to gun violence, this article will be helpful!
  2. What is Gun Control? Everything You Need to Know: NBS News offers a brief article that discusses what gun control is and the controversy around it. The article specifically examines how old gun control is, how many people have guns today, and who supports gun control. Educators who want their students to grasp where the gun control debate stems from should check it out!
  3. Dangerous Gaps in Gun Laws Exposed by the Coronavirus Gun Sale Surge: The Center for American Progress has published an article discussing the dangerous gaps in gun laws exposed by the coronavirus gun sale surge. The article explains the weakness in the background check system, the insufficient oversight of gun ownership, and firearm licensing as a big-picture solution for a system rifle with problems.
  4. America’s Gun Culture in Charts: BBC provides an article that lays out America’s gun culture in charts. This piece discusses how the U.S. compares with other countries, who owns the world’s guns, a breakdown of U.S. gun deaths, who does and does not support gun control, and more related topics.
  5. Guns and Gun Control: The New York Times has a collection of current news articles about guns and gun control. Some topics of these articles include how our firearms problems just keep piling up, how an officer could mistake a gun for a taser, and the dangers of ghost guns.
  6. Here’s A Timeline of the Major Gun Control Laws in America: Time provides a timeline that outlines the most important events in influencing the United States’ federal gun policy.

Informational Sites

  1. Gun Control – Pros & Cons: ProCon.org provides several pro and con arguments to help students understand the complexities of the debate on gun control. The page also offers some statistics on gun ownership, gun violence, and gun control laws. 
  2. Gun Control in the U.S.: Britannica offers a brief informational article on gun control in the United States. The article focuses on what gun control is and why gun control is so controversial in the U.S.
  3. U.S. Gun Policy – Global Comparisons: The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) provides information on U.S. gun policy and how it compares to other countries’ policies around the world, specifically those of Canada, Australia, Israel, United Kingdom, Norway, and Japan.
  4. 7 Facts About Guns in the U.S.: Pew Research Center has put together 7 facts about Americans’ experiences with and attitudes toward guns. 
  5. Does Gun Control Really Work?: The National Center for Health Research offers an informational article that examines whether gun control really works. It gives information about who runs a background check, effective gun control measures, what we should do now, and automatic and semi-automatic assault rifles.

Conclusion

Teaching about gun control is very important. When teaching about gun control, educators should remember that the issue is controversial. Therefore, it is necessary to create a safe environment where all students feel comfortable to share their opinions, regardless of whether or not their classmates (or you) are in complete agreement. In addition, gun violence can be a frightening topic for all students but some more than others, so educators should be sure to offer extra support for those who need it. 

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