The Right to Bear Arms: Addressing Mass Shootings in Our Time

A Remington 20-gauge semi-automatic shotgun, a Colt AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, a Colt .45 semi-auto handgun, a Walther PK380 semi-auto handgun and ammunition set against an American flag.

Dr. David Childs, D.D., Ph.D.
Northern Kentucky University

Second Amendment- A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

An NPR article from May 25, 2022 opens up stating “It’s 21 weeks into the year and America has already seen 213 mass shootings” (Here is a list of the shootings from 2022). This statement is indicative of the “culture of violence” that is very much a part of US culture. Indeed experts are pointing to a culture of violence that seems to define what it means to be America. A popular poem that has gained prominence on the Internet entitled America is a Gun exemplifies America’s seeming propensity for violence.


The Second Amendment is short on words but long on dispute.
Stockphoto.com

In light of mass shootings over the last few years, namely the tragic elementary school shootings of Sandy Hook in Newton, Connecticut and at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, as well as other recent mass shootings such as the racial motivated slaying in Buffalo, New York the debate about second amendment rights has resurfaced and been discussed vehemently. This brief article provides resources for classroom teachers to facilitate discussion with their middle and high school students about debates surrounding the second amendment.


Kladys Castellón prays during a vigil for the victims of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.

By Billy Calzada/APK

The Civics Renewal website has a wonderful lesson plan for social studies classrooms to discuss the second amendment in an article entitled Interactive Constitution: Second Amendment (High School). The site states that “This lesson introduces students to different viewpoints and debates surrounding the 2nd Amendment by using the National Constitution Center’s Interactive Constitution. Students will build understanding of the resources and methods used by justices on the Supreme Court and Constitutional scholars when analyzing and forming opinions about articles, sections, and clauses of the Constitution.”

Check out these other resources and lesson plans for teaching about the second amendment and gun control:

Lesson Plans and Teaching Resources

Interactive Constitution: Second Amendment (High School)
PBS Resources on the Second Amendment and Gun Control
Lesson Plan: Second Amendment Supreme Court Cases: DC v Heller and McDonald v Chicago
Middle Level Lesson Plan- Interactive Constitution (2nd Amendment-Right to Bear Arms).
Second Amendment | Civics 10
The Second Amendment: Why is it controversial?
Lesson Plan: 2nd Amendment
Second Amendment: Stifle the Rifle or Needed for Survival? – U.S. Constitution Series | Academy 4 Social Change
Discussing Controversial Topics: The Second Amendment
Guns and the Constitution: 3 Lessons for High School Students
The Second Amendment: Siege at Waco
Gun Control and the 2nd Amendment U.S. Government & Society

Other Resources
Gun Violence Archives
Mass Shootings of 2022
Recent Mass Shootings in the U.S.: A Timeline
After Parkland, States Pass 50 New Gun-Control Laws
Parkland Shooting: Where Gun Control and School Safety Stand Today
Spa shooting victims’ relatives, AAPI legislators renew gun control push

Discussion questions and activities for students and the general public
1. In what ways can we have discussions about gun control and the second amendment in a more bipartisan way?
2. Peruse some of the lesson plan links and other resources? What ideas and materials do you find most useful in your classroom?
3. People are passionate on both sides of the debate about gun control. Think about what side of the debate you fall on. Peruse the various resources and find lessons or materials that challenge your view. Based on this information, in what ways might you have a civil conversation about views in which you differ?

We are open to feedback and discussion. If you see any typos or grammatical errors please feel free to email the author and editor at the address below:

Dr. David Childs
childsd1@nku.edu 

2 Comments

  1. The Right to Bear Arms: Addressing Mass Shootings in Our Time

    While there is a lot of controversy surrounding this topic, I think it is important to showcase how this conversation plays a role in the school system. The article provides a lot of lesson plans and resources for the 2nd amendment and gun control which I think are important to talk about in the classroom because of how students, teachers, and parents have been affected. It is important that we teach our history while also connecting it to what is happening in our society today in order to see how we have evolved over time and what kind of outcomes our choices produce.

  2. 1. In what ways can we have discussions about gun control and the second amendment in a more bipartisan way? An effective way to have a bipartisan conversation about gun control is to be willing to listen to both sides and respectful to someone who does not agree. Both sides can present an argument with reasons why they are right and listen to the other side. If a person is speaking rationally and understands that not everyone will agree, then a discussion could be bipartisan. 

    2. Peruse some of the lesson plan links and other resources? What ideas and materials do you find most useful in your classroom? The second amendment lesson on why it is controversial is useful because it gives a detailed lesson plan that I could follow. There are questions included that can spark conversations and get the students thinking. The second amendment: siege at Waco is also another useful resource to use. It is a short video that provides a real world example on how gun control was put into play. 

    3. People are passionate on both sides of the debate about gun control. Think about what side of the debate you fall on. Peruse the various resources and find lessons or materials that challenge your view. Based on this information, in what ways might you have a civil conversation about views in which you differ? I have always understood both sides of this argument and am not extremely passionate either way. I find myself leaning more towards stricter gun laws because there are so many mass shootings for whatever reason in America. It is also mostly the violent culture around us that is a cause of this. I could see the other side where people feel their rights are being taken and they feel a need to defend themselves. A civil conversation is something I could do no problem because if good reasoning is used then there is no reason for true division or hatred. 

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