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.

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 


  1. I chose to read this article because gun control and debate over the second amendment is a very prevalent issue today in the United States. This article discusses the second amendment and school shootings. Just in the first 5 months of 2022, their were 213 mass shootings. I find this unbelievable that in not even half of a year, that many shootings occurred. This article goes into depth on the United States culture being a “culture of violence” I agree with that statement, so much unnecessary violence occurs everyday. I believe that discussing this issue and debate of gun control needs to be talked about in school. This article does that by providing resources for teachers of middle and high school students to bring these discussions into the classroom the right way.

  2. I really like how this article sees the importance of teaching students about the Second Amendment by requiring them to see different viewpoints surrounding the discussion. The gun control debate is a very controversial topic in America right now and people are becoming frightened by the frequency of mass shootings. Teaching students about different viewpoints of the second amendment encourages them to participate in the democratic process by building an educated opinion. They can actively engage in discussions and participate in finding a solution. I think having this knowledge will empower students to actively participate in this issue and continue building a better and safer future.

  3. There have been a couple recent shootings, so coming across this article was something that I wanted to read. Guns are way too dangerous for people to be able to just carry around. It is very scary what people think to do with them and think is okay. I hope to see change around the gun control very soon as this problem has gotten far out of hand recently. The lesson plans were very interesting to look through, and could be very helpful to all the teachers out there.

  4. As someone who is scared to send their child to school in the future due to current issues surrounding gun use and the second amendment, I fully believe in stricter gun control. This article is a fantastic read, and I love that there are resources for lesson plans. I will definitely be referring to this as a middle school teacher, since this is a very important topic to discuss with students. Not only would it be for their safety, but it’s also for their knowledge. We can’t expect change without knowledge..

  5. I love this article and it is a talk in the society. The article said, “America is Gun” and I can help but think about this in different ways. So far this year, the country has recorded about 200 mass shooting, and it is still ongoing, and it feels like we don’t know what to expect every day. The thought of leaving your house being worried about be killed by someone else, staying in your house doesn’t guarantee safety and talking a walk in the neighborhood seems impossible without thinking about the worst that can happen. I think there should a system setup to evaluate people before allowing them to purchase a gun. Before coming to America, I didn’t think it was for a citizen to own a gun unless you work in the armed force department and that doesn’t make you the owner of the weapon but allows you to carry it and use it when needed. I believe nobody in their right frame of mind will kill someone because they want to and I’m not talking about self-defense here. In what ways can we have discussions about gun control and the second amendment in a more bipartisan way? Yes, we can view it from the two angle and try to be reasonable. Truly there is no justification for this act but I think a law can be put in place to regulate the body that sell and license the user and also a mental health evaluation before allowing they can buy a gun.

  6. I recently did a speech arguing for better gun control laws, and I used the Second Amendment in my speech. I wish I had access to some of these lesson plans and articles when I was arguing, as this side of my speech wasn’t as strong as I would have liked it to be. While it may be a controversial and scary topic at this time, it’s a topic we need to discuss. Right now, it is my opinion that some of our government is focused on the wrong things. The less control we have on laws, the more lives are lost. In April alone there were back to back mass shootings. We don’t want to start living in fear of going out in public and living our own lives. I think we should start letting middle schoolers and high schoolers voice their opinions and we can help shape them even further. These lesson plans will help us.

  7. This article was a good read because it is an important controversial topic in today’s society. We can have conversations like these about gun violence if we do so in a respectful manner like in the article. Instead of focusing about who is right and who is wrong, we should be focusing on compromise to figure out how we can work together to limit this problem. Starting with my personal opinion, it is unfair to take away the Second Amendment from the American people, especially when we are living in a time that we may need protection most with the current violence we have been seeing in our country. The people that are committing these horrific acts are the problem, not guns themselves. Therefore, everyone else does not deserve to be punished. However, I think that there needs to be much more restriction and laws in place to make the process for licensed carriers very selective. I think that schools and other public places need to update their safety procedures to accommodate these acts and prevent them from happening as well.

  8. I wanted to read this article because not only is this topic highly prevalent in today’s society but over the news of the most recent mass shooting. This happened in Half Moon Bay in California which left 7 dead. According to a CNN article, The US has now had more mass shootings in 2023 than at this point in any year on record and it’s only January. It breaks my heart to hear this. I understand that gun control is such a hot topic, but there needs to be something done to stop these tragedies from happening. Mass shootings are being normalized and they shouldn’t be.

    CNN article:

  9. 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.

  10. 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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