The Second Amendment and Gun Debate 

The Second Amendment and Gun Debate 


To begin, look over the New York Times “6 Stories and Charts to Better Help You Understand Gun Violence.”

 Make note of any of the data that surprises you, and for further discussion.

Part I: G is for Gun interviewees weigh in 

Following is a montage of extra clips taken for G is for Gun that did not make it into the final film. Many of the people interviewed make reference to the Second Amendment, or more generally the debate about guns in American society. Watch each, and then consider the questions that follow.

What different views do you hear reflected here? Which do you find most compelling and why?

Now spend some time reading through the following report from the Pew Research Center, “America’s Complex Relationship With Guns: An In-Depth Look at Attitudes and Experiences of U.S. Adults” (2017):

Which, if any, of the findings do you find surprising? Which do you see reflected in the views expressed above? Choose one area of focus in the report and discuss how you see either gun-control or gun-rights advocates using these statistics to their benefit.

Part II: Deeper Dive – Focus on the Second Amendment

For an overview of the history of the Second Amendment and how it has been interpreted, read the following brief piece on

In what ways did two major Supreme Court decisions (District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008, and McDonald v. Chicago in 2010) change the interpretation of the Second Amendment?

Listen to the following podcast on the Second Amendment and its role in the ongoing gun debate produced New York Times The Daily:

Part III: Deeper Dive – The History and Power of the N.R.A.

 Watch the following brief video “How the NRA Went from Gun Club to Gun Lobby,” produced for on the history of the N.R.A., and consider the question that follows.

In what ways did the focus and function of the NRA change from its inception in 1871 to current day? According to this video, what were the major causes of these shifts?

To learn more about the evolution of the NRA, listen to the podcast “The Long Evolution of the N.R.A.,” produced by Oliver Lazarus for PRI’s show The Takeaway (21minutes). The podcast features Adam Winkler, author of the book “Gun Fight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America,” and professor of constitutional law at UCLA.

One of the points Winkler makes is that often the gun debate in American culture centers less on the Second Amendment, and more on “culture wars.” What does he mean by this? What are the stereotypes, culturally, of gun-control advocates? What are the stereotypes, culturally, of gun-rights advocates?

Part IV: Deeper Dive – The Gun Debate and Race

The history of the gun legislation is deeply tied to the history of race in the United States, adding more complexity to the gun debate.

To begin, read this 2014 article from The Washington Post – “The racial divide in America’s gun deaths,” by Roberto Ferdman – that cites statistics about gun violence and race:

The history of gun control has always had racial underpinnings. Watch the following video produced for

The #NeverAgain movement launched by the Parkland survivors of the most recent school massacre has highlighted racial disparities in the public’s willingness to listen to gun-control advocates. Read this article and watch the accompanying video from CNN’s reporting on black students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.

Also read this article from Teen Vogue, by Lincoln Anthony Blades, which echoes similar sentiments and provides more information (with links) about the many groups that have been active around this issue for quite some time.

Finally, read the following article written for The Intercept by Natasha Lennard: “Gun Control Has Always Been Racist – That Doesn’t Mean We Shouldn’t Support the Parkland Students’ Movement,” March 1, 2018.

What distinctions does the author of the last article make between the left and the far left in relation to gun control and race?

What has driven the overwhelming support for and attention to the white teenagers of Parkland, Florida, when so many young people of color fighting against gun violence have been largely ignored for years? What can be done about this disparity?


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