Daily Video

April 17, 2009

10 Years After Columbine: Gun Sales and Violence Up

Two years after the college shootings at Virginia Tech and ten years after the high school shooting in Columbine, Colorado gun violence is still a hot button issue in the United States.

Since early March over 50 people have been killed in mass killings – 7 of them trained police officers- in the United States; these attacks took place all over the country from New York, to California, to Alabama and North Carolina.

According to interviews with gun shop owners, people are nervous that the Obama presidency will usher in a new era of gun control laws.

Gun purchases have been on the rise since November and background checks are up a whopping 25 percent.

In this video two experts debate whether greater restrictions and enforcement are wanted or needed to stop gun violence. Note: ask the students to note when the men use statistics and discuss how those numbers are carefully selected to fit into their arguments.


“These mass killings get high profile, but bear in mind that they account for a small fraction of 1 percent of all the murders in the United States.” Robert Levy, Cato Institute

“We don’t have strict enough standards for who should possess a gun, can legally possess a gun. But maybe more importantly, we really don’t have systems that hold gun sellers accountable to make sure that they are only transferring guns to truly law-abiding people who are mentally competent.” Daniel Webster, Johns Hopkins University

“The deterrent purpose of guns, the possession of guns by people who want to defend themselves, is what we have to preserve and what now the Supreme Court has hold us the Constitution does, in fact, preserve.” Robert Levy, Cato Institute

“We’re really not talking about whether someone should be able to defend themselves with a gun. What we’re talking about is, what can we do as a country to have more sensible gun policies to keep guns from dangerous people? We can do that and still allow law-abiding citizens access to guns.” Daniel Webster, Johns Hopkins University

Warm Up Questions

1. Could you go into a gun store and purchase a gun?

2. What are some rules governing who can and who cannot own a gun?

3. What is the Second Amendment to the Constitution?

Discussion Questions

1. Do you think that more gun regulation is needed? Why or why not?

2. After hearing these two arguments have you changed your mind? Why or why not?

3. Use a web search to check the facts. Where did the men get their statistics, are they correct?

4. Daniel Webster from Johns Hopkins University mentioned that some violent offenders with only misdemeanors offenses should not be allowed to own weapons, do you agree? Why or why not?

5. If you were creating new gun legislation, what would be important to you?

6. The Supreme Court ruled again last year that owning guns is a fundamental right in the United States, do you agree? Is this an important right to you and your community?

7. Robert Levy of the Cato Institute argues that guns prevent violence, what do you think?

Additional Resources

Read this trasncript

Slide Show: Supreme Court Overturns D.C. Handgun Ban

In Depth: Shootings at Virginia Tech

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