As part of a collaboration with the National Writing Project, this is the first in a series of teacher-created educator guides on key topical issues. Written by two NWP-affiliated high school English and media arts teachers – Kirsten Spall of Natomas Charter High School (Sacramento) and Chris Sloan of Judge Memorial Catholic School (Salt Lake City) – the guide helps teachers explore and navigate the highly-charged political and emotional issues behind the topic of gun control. Based on content featured on The Lowdown, the guide provides ideas for integrating the issues into English language arts and social studies curriculum. It includes Common Core Standards Alignment, a synopsis of key background information, integration tips, and lists of issue pros and cons, creative writing prompts and best classroom practices.
Gun control advocates say yes. Gun rights folks beg to differ.
Big surprise on that one, huh?
The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, an advocacy group pushing for tougher regulations, assigned every state a grade based on 29 different policy approaches to regulating firearms and ammunition. California topped the list with an A-. (New York – which now requires background checks for ammunition sales – has since surpassed California in the toughness of it’s gun laws. It’s the first state to enact such legislation following the Newtown shooting. And debates have begun in a handful of other states – including California and Colorado – to strengthen gun laws there.) Continue reading
Explore the map below for detailed figures on each state’s firearms-related homicide rates for 2010 and 2011. For every state except Alabama and Florida (which post their own records), data are taken from FBI records. The darker the shade of blue, the greater the number of gun homicides in a state for every 100,000 residents living there.
In 2011, the highest gun homicide rate (per 100,000 residents) in the nation was, ironically, in the city where the nation’s gun control laws are decided: Washington, D.C. The rate there was 12.4 (actually down from 2010). A close second was Louisiana, with a rate of 10, followed by Mississippi, with 7.4. California, the most populous state, has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country as well as the greatest number of overall homicides (1,790) and the most gun-related murders (1,220). In 2011, the state had a gun homicide rate of 3.25 (per 100,000 residents).
Regardless of where you stand on gun control, the fact remains that America is one gun-toting country. There are 89 guns for every 100 civilians, according to the 2011 Small Arms Survey. That amounts to roughly 270 million guns owned nationwide, far and away the highest gun ownership rate in the world. With less than 5 percent of the world’s population, the U.S. is home to anywhere between 35 and 50 percent of all civilian-owned guns on earth.
And while America certainly does not have the highest firearms-related homicide rate in the world (it ranks 28th), our rate is more than four times that of any other industrialized country (including all of Europe, Japan, Australia, Turkey and India): in 2011, there were well over 9,000 gun-related homicides (nearly 70 percent of all homicides committed), or roughly three per 100,000 population, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. That’s about 20 times the average rate of all other developed nations, according to the Washington Post.
In contrast, Great Britain has a gun ownership rate of about 6 guns for every 100 civilians. Last year it had 41 gun-related homicides, or .07 per 100,000 population. Meanwhile, Finland, where there are 45 guns per 100 civilians, had only 24 gun homicides in 2011, a rate of .45 per 100,000 population.
The infographic below, produced by Good Magazine and Column Five, further illustrates America’s deep and exceptional love affair with the gun.
Editor’s Note: The U.S. rate of gun ownership was previously stated incorrectly: there are 89 guns for every 100 civilians (NOT: 89 out of 100 civilians own a gun).
When asked, during the second presidential debate, about their respective positions on assault weapons, both candidates gave only vague responses. Neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney offered any indication that they would would push for stronger gun control laws.
In case you haven’t been paying attention for the last, say, 40 years, gun control has long been a thorny issue in American politics, partly because of the ongoing heated debate over how the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution should be interpreted, and partly because of the National Rifle Association, a powerful lobbying group that has successfully dissuaded ranks of political leaders from pushing for more restrictive firearms legislation. Continue reading