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Lesson Plans

President Obama talks guns at PBS town hall

June 3, 2016

Full Lesson

Essential question

What is the media’s role in presidential elections?

President Obama answered a question about gun policy following PBS NewsHour’s town hall on June 1 in Elkhart, Indiana.

An audience member asked Obama why he and Hillary Clinton have attempted to place restrictions on gun manufacturers and owners, pointing out that the city of Chicago has one of the highest murder rates and, at the same time, some of the strictest gun laws in the nation.

Obama disagreed with the notion that he or Clinton want to take away guns. “At no point have I ever proposed confiscating guns from responsible gun owners,” Obama said.

Obama compared the gun safety measures he has supported to automobile laws. People need a license to drive but do not need one to buy a gun.

Obama mentioned suspected ISIL sympathizers who are on the ‘no fly’ list but are still able to buy guns because of National Rifle Association (NRA) lobbying and gridlock in Congress.

Key terms

NRA—National Rifle Association, an organization founded in 1871 that stands for the protection of the Second Amendment which guarantees a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms

no-fly list—a list, created by the U.S. government’s Terrorist Screening Center (TSC), of people who are prohibited from boarding a commercial aircraft for travel in or out of the U.S.

ISIL—the term used by the White House for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIS, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria

Warm up questions (before watching the video)
  1. What constitutional amendment protects citizens’ right to bear arms?
  2. What is a background check?
  3. What are your views on whether people should be allowed to own and carry guns?
Critical thinking questions (after watching the video)
  1. What did you think of Obama’s tone as he answered the question?
  2. Why do many gun owners believe that Obama wants to confiscate their guns?
  3. Obama stated that the power of the NRA prohibits him from restricting an ISIL sympathizer from purchasing a gun. What role do special interest groups play in the gun debate and the legislation process?