Teaching About Gun Violence

Introduction

Gun violence—violence committed with the use of firearms—is on the rise in the United States and steals the lives of almost 40,000 Americans every year. Because students may be exposed to gun violence in the U.S. either firsthand or through the media, teaching about gun violence is important. Education about gun violence may deter students from picking up a firearm while under the age of 18 and without the proper gun education, encourage students to advocate for gun violence prevention, or simply teach students about the prevalence and dangerousness of gun violence in the U.S. Even though significant change in gun violence in the U.S. may only come through new legislation being enacted by the government, conversations about gun violence in the classroom are one small way to make change.

Resources

There are a growing number of resources available online for educators to teach students about gun violence. Alongside the lesson plans, articles, and informational sites below, any current news related to gun violence can be used by educators to enhance students’ understanding of the topic. Educators who also want to teach their students about gun control should check out U4SC’s topic resource Teaching About Gun Control

Lesson Plans

  1. Addressing Gun Violence – Lesson Plans and Resources: Share My Lesson offers a collection of lesson plans and resources on addressing gun violence. These materials explore facts, history, laws, and players on the issue of gun violence in the United States. More specifically, free K-12 lessons and resources are provided on laws and the Second Amendment, government debates and obstacles, gun violence against specific populations and hate, and civil discourse and action tools. To access any of these lessons, educators will only have to make a free account for the website. 
  2. Teaching in the Shadow of Violence – Resources for Teachers in the Wake of Gun Tragedies: The Center for New Designs in Learning & Scholarship (CNDLS) at Georgetown University has put together plenty of resources for educators to use in the wake of gun tragedies. Georgetown provides resources of their own along with those from other sources to help educators have conversations about gun violence successfully in their classrooms.
  3. Teaching Resources about Gun Violence: The National Council for the Social Studies provides teaching resources and background articles on teaching about gun violence. The list includes lessons, articles, and videos from The Atlantic, Facing History and Ourselves, New York Times, NPR, PBS, and more sources! From these resources, students can learn about gun control around the world, the gun control movement that arose after the Parkland school shooting, gun control vs. gun rights, etc.
  4. It’s Time to End Gun Violence: American Federation of Teachers (AFL) has put together a list of lesson plans, videos, AFT voices, and actions that can be taken against gun violence.

Articles

  1. Gun Violence in Schools: Learning for Justice has published an article about gun violence in schools. The article offers educators several resources to help them have conversations on gun violence, school safety, mental health, and how to take action after a school shooting in their classrooms.
  2. Nine Ways to Help Students Discuss Guns and Violence: Greater Good Magazine has compiled nine ways to help students discuss guns and violence. The article was published shortly after the mass shooting in Parkland, but the advice will be applicable in the wake of any school shooting or in general. It recommends fostering civil discourse and reflection, establishing classroom norms, embracing silence, encouraging informed dialogue, letting students drive the conversation, and more.
  3. How Teens Want to Solve America’s School Shooting Problem: PBS Newshour provides a resource that highlights how teens want to solve America’s school shooting problem. Middle and high school students across the nation share their thoughts on gun violence in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland. It will be beneficial for students to hear the voices of their peers and then form their own opinions about gun violence.
  4. Gun Violence Deaths – How The U.S. Compares With The Rest Of The World: npr offers an article on how gun violence deaths in the United States compare with the rest of the world. The article gives the statistics to show how frequent gun violence is in the U.S. compared with other wealthy countries. It also shows how the U.S. compares with the highest rates of violent gun deaths worldwide, in East, Southeast and South Asia, in North Africa and the Middle East, and in Sub-Saharan Africa. 
  5. Five Key Facts About Gun Violence: The New York Times has published an article that looks at five key facts about gun violence and the politics of the issue. The article explains that the toll of gun deaths approaches pancreatic cancer, more guns means more deaths, mass shootings aren’t the main problem, public opinion is complicated, and the filibuster is pro-gun.
  6. Why Has Gun Violence Increased in the United States? Three Questions for BU’s Jonathan Jay: BU’s Jonathan Jay, who studied 2020;s record increase in gun deaths, recently published an article discussing this increase in gun violence. He says that the pandemic’s health and economic stress played a large role and believes that the violence could linger beyond Covid-19 without help from the community and government.

Informational Sites

  1. Gun Violence Archive: The Gun Violence Archive has put together information about gun-related violence in the United States. Students will have access to charts and maps and reports about gun violence in the U.S. that will help them understand the scope of the problem of gun violence.
  2. Gun Violence: The American Public Health Association (APHA) provides many resources on gun violence and gun violence prevention, including AJPH articles, fact sheets, research and data, and violence prevention advocacy organizations.
  3. Everytown Research & Policy
  1. Gun Violence in America: Everytown’s report on gun violence in America covers gun deaths by intent, suicide, homicide, children/teens, domestic violence, and impact on Ameicans. 
  2. Keeping Our Schools Safe: Everytown’s report on keeping our schools safe lays out a plan for preventing mass shootings and ending all gun violence in American schools. 
  1. Gun Violence Prevention: The National Education Association, nea, provides information about gun violence in America and four videos on the fight to end gun violence in our schools and communities. nea has also put together a school crisis guide that includes information on preventing and preparing for a school crisis, what to do following a school crisis, and recovering from a school crisis.
  2. March For Our Lives: March For Our Lives is a movement started by a group of survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that aims to end gun violence and mass shootings in schools by advocating for gun control legislation.
  3. Amnesty International – Gun Violence Key Facts: Amnesty International offers an abundance of key facts on gun violence. This page of information discusses gun violence statistics, gun violence worldwide, gun violence in the United States, and activism against gun violence.

Conclusion

Though teaching about gun violence may be intimidating or even unsettling, it is essential. When teaching about this topic, it is important to remember that gun violence is a sensitive one. The thought of gun violence can be frightening for children and adults alike, so it is important to monitor how students are feeling throughout the lesson and offer support along the way. In addition, educators who want to follow up with teaching their students about violence in schools should check out United 4 Social Change’s Teaching About Violence in Schools

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