Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America
You are to write a 5-8 page, double-spaced paper in 12 pt., Times New Roman font with 1” margins
all around in response to the following prompt. Strive to be as clear and specific as possible, as
you are responsible for answering all elements of the question.
In his 2013 State of the Union Address, President Obama evoked the horrific shootings in
Aurora, Colorado and Sandy Hook Elementary, as well as the assassination attempt on former
congresswoman Gabby Giffords, as reasons to put his new landmark gun legislation to a vote in
Congress. His initiatives to reduce gun violence include requiring criminal background checks on
all gun sales, including those by private sellers that are currently exempt; reinstating and
strengthening the ban on so-called “assault weapons”; limiting ammunition magazines to 10
rounds; and banning the possession of armor-piercing bullets by anyone other than members of
military and law enforcement, among many other significant measures. While many bills have
since been introduced in the U.S. legislature to curb gun violence, no major legislation has been
passed. Based on your reading of Gunfight and your own investigation of the efficacy of gun
control laws, do you favor or oppose such legislation? Why or why not? If so, what kind,
specially? Explain your answer.
To provide proper historical context for this debate, first compare and contrast the cultures
of “gun grabbers” and “gun nuts” in terms of their respective histories, values, beliefs, and
practices in the United States. How has each culture mobilized to lobby Congress and the courts
to have their principles and aims realized in public policy? Make plain that you have indeed read
Gunfight in full when writing this section.
Now, suppose for the moment that you are a member of the U.S. House of Representatives
tasked with voting for or against Obama’s proposed gun control legislation. Your personal stance
on the issue is clear and firm, but the majority of the constituents in your legislative district disagree
with your view. How does this create an ethical dilemma for you as a representative? How would
you take into account the views of your fellow political party members, the president, interest-
group lobbyists, as well as those of your own constituents in making your final decision? What
would the likely outcome be of having to go against any or all of those individuals or groups in
order to make your decision?
Give your paper an appropriate title and center it. With the exception of the first page, number
each page at the top right.
Your paper must draw upon at least two outside sources in addition to the Gunfight text and the
links included above. Besides other relevant books on the topic of gun control/gun violence in the
U.S. and around the world, and academic journal articles from the fields of political science,
sociology, and history, examples of acceptable sources include:
Newspapers Magazines and other Periodicals
The New York Times The Atlantic Monthly New York Review of Books
The Washington Post The New Republic Claremont Review of Books
The Los Angeles Times The New Yorker
The Boston Globe Mother Jones
The Wall Street Journal The National Review
The Economist The Weekly Standard
Pick a citation style (e.g., MLA or Chicago) and adhere to it consistently throughout your paper.
When you quote, paraphrase, or summarize someone else’s work, you need to tell the reader the
source you are using. Two common methods are in-text citations/parenthetical citations and
footnotes/endnotes. Give the complete citation at the end of your paper in the bibliography or
works cited page.


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