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Gun control is an incredibly hot topic issue — one that inspires fierce debate across the political spectrum. It has roots in our Constitution, and immediate impact for students across the country today. This lesson allows students to get into the weeds of the debate around gun control, and to share their own perspectives.
Estimated Time: One class period
Level: 10th – 12th grade
Civil Dialogue & Critical Thinking
By the end of this lesson, students will have learned:
- Collaboration: students will work together and learn from each other through discussion
- Civil conversation and conflict resolution: students will learn how to listen, understand and respect one another’s views, especially when there are differences of opinion and background.
- Research and analysis: students will have a deeper understanding of different perspectives (including their own, their classmates, and the country at large) through researching and discussing
See how this program complies with Common Core standards.
Tools & Resources Provided By AS4S & Our Partners
- The Guns Topic page and the Violence in America Topic page will give your students a good understanding of the background of this issue. AllSides Topic pages provide background information, current news and opinions, think tanks and more.
- Guns in Schools: See the NRA’s position vs the NEA’s position (National Education Association).
- The AllSides Balanced Dictionary reveals how different people from across the political spectrum think and feel about the same term or issue. Utilize these terms: Second Amendment Rights, Gun Control, Gun Rights and Gun Violence.
- ProCon.org: Gun Control
Suggested Curriculum / Class Plan
Homework Prior to Class
Students will read the Second Amendment and spend 10-20 min looking at the most recent news about Gun Control from different perspectives.
Read the NRA’s and NEA’s positions on guns in schools (included in References above).
Optional – Students will ask their parent(s)/caregiver(s) for their perspectives on gun control and take notes to share in class during discussion.
If you’d like to have an in-class discussion, divide students into small groups, preferably with a mix of biases. (Educator may need to have students complete a simple bias quiz for homework 2 days prior so the Educator has a chance to evaluate relevant classroom biases, if a similar test has never been conducted previously.)
If you’d like to have an online discussion with a classroom that holds different political views, utilize the Mismatch platform.
Pick and choose from the following list of discussion questions, and give students time to discuss them in small groups. If time permits, also have students come back into a larger class-wide discussion to share their thoughts.
Teacher reads the Second Amendment out loud then urges students to discuss:
- How do you interpret this amendment?
- What do you think the Founding Fathers were thinking when they wrote this?
- As the United States is different now than it was in the late 1700s, do you think it is still necessary?
- Why is the right to own guns so important to Americans, in particular?
Deeper Meaning questions:
- Where did you learn about guns? And what did you learn?
- What role have guns played in your life?
- What are your concerns about gun safety?
- Are gun issues on your top 10 list of concerns? Why or why not?
After discussing Gun Control in general, pivot to guns in schools with the following questions:
- What can schools do to keep students safe? What should they do?
- Do armed guards in schools make them safer against gun-related attacks or encourage more violence?
Final Questions to pose to students, either as homework or just as a wrap up:
- What is one important thing you thought was accomplished here?
- Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?
Optional Homework Assignments
- Have students write a 300 word reflection after the Gun Control class discussion — what did they learn? Did they have any interesting disagreements? Why do they think discussions about our environment matter?