Today, gun control has become one of those topics that everybody talks about. And there is no surprise in that, considering the tragic events that took place recently. The discussion around gun control has been lasting for as long as this country exists, but it has become an even more pressing issue after those mass shootings. It is being discussed everywhere – in the media, in the scientific journals on social studies, in the city councils and in the Congress. No wonder this topic also gets its share of attention in classrooms and every student has to write at least one gun control essay in the course of studies.
Truly, gun control gives the most fertile ground for debate. Some people stand on pro gun control positions and claim that the existing gun control regulations are critically insufficient. Other people argue that criminals procure guns illegally anyway, so conscious citizens should also have free access to firearms for self-defense. Between these two extremes, there is also a great variety of viewpoints and opinions.
If you want to discuss such a sensitive issue in an academic paper, you cannot afford to have an opinion based on nothing, like some people have. You have to be well-informed on the background of the issue, as well as on all the multitude of expert opinions about it. To do that, you first have to look at where it all began – the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States that was passed in 1791 and granted the individuals the right to possess firearms. Since then, the understanding of the Second Amendment has evolved a great deal, and we are still far from consensus on this question. The discussion continues on all levels, and a student's gun control essay is really just as good ground to discuss it as any other.
A research on any topic suggests looking through all the information you find on this topic. With gun control, you will have no problem finding information, since there is a lot of it out there. In fact, the amount of information on this topic is quite overwhelming – much more than one can digest at a time and much more than one may need to write an excellent essay. Given these massive amounts of potential sources of information, you should make sure that you are not wasting your time looking through sources that are irrelevant to your topic, even if they may be quite an exciting read. To do that, you need to make your research well planned out and know where to look the relevant information.
As we have already pointed out, when you want to get yourself well-informed on any particular issue, you begin with investigating its roots. When we talk about gun control discussion, it all roots from the Second Amendment. It was passed along with the rest of the Bill of Rights at the very dawn of our country in the late 18th century. There, the right for individual gun possession was first formulated and regulated. This document is the source of our entire understanding of individual gun possession, so you need to be familiar with this document if you look to talk about gun control and be taken seriously.
Much time has passed since then, and there have been many precedents where the court had to rule to clarify certain aspects of the Second Amendment – on both state and federal levels. The most noteworthy relevant court cases are as follows:
These and some other court cases have largely contributed to today's understanding of individual possession and gun control, so being familiar with them is also necessary for building your expertise on gun control.
Getting familiar with the historical background of the gun control discussion is only half of your research. You will also need to be aware of the present-day state of this ongoing discussion. For this, you should browse through the reputable media, like New Yorker and Times, BBC and CNN, etc. and look for gun control articles with experts opinions from both pro and anti gun control camps. To make it easier for you, we have taken the liberty and put together a selection of insightful pieces from both sides of the gun control discussion.
These pro gun control articles state that the current gun control regulations are not effective enough to confront gun violence and talk about how the situation can be improved:
4 Pro-Gun Arguments We’re Sick of Hearing by Amanda Marcotte, Rolling Stone
Since everybody talks about gun control today, Amanda Marcotte of the Rolling Stone magazine has also come up with this surprisingly insightful piece. She does not claim to be an expert but rather speaks from the stand of one of the people at whom pro-gun arguments are supposed to aim, and explains why they don't work.
Battleground America by Jill LePore, The New Yorker
If you feel like you are not well-informed enough about gun control, this article is priceless for you. It briefly sums up the spirit of the Second Amendment as it was 200 years ago and follows its evolution through the years, as well as the evolution of firearms themselves.
California’s Proposed Gun Laws Won’t Change Our Culture of Violence, But They Will Make Us Safer by LA Times Editorial Board
This article is a detailed overview of the present-day gun control regulations in California, which is arguably the strictest in the land. They conclude by stating that the current regulations are not effective enough, as they involve a number of loopholes. The authors suggest that the regulations should be made even stricter.
Gun Control and the Constitution: Should We Amend the Second Amendment? by Paul M. Barrett, Bloomberg Businessweek
Barrett points out that the language in the text of the Second Amendment is quite vague and leaves too much room for interpretation. So, instead of fixing or clarifying it, he suggests that a whole newest of regulations is necessary, clear and direct.
It’s Time to Ban Guns. Yes, All of Them by Phoebe Maltz Bovy, New Republic
Bovy takes a more radical stand in this discussion. She claims that we need to get rid of individual gun possession as a whole, with no exceptions.
Why We Can’t Talk About Gun Control by James Hamblin, The Atlantic
In his time, Hamblin was fired for drafting a piece on gun control that was not approved by his superiors. In this article, he talks about how unhealthily politicized the topic is and how our society is incapable of seeing it as it is and not as an attack on our whole set of rights and freedoms.
These anti gun control articles insist that the existing gun control regulations are ineffective because they are too strict and suggest that these regulations need to be loosened. Here is what the experts from this side of the argument have to say:
5 Arguments Against Gun Control - And Why They Are All Wrong by Evan DePhilippis and Devin Hughes, LA Times
DePhilippis and Hughes are convinced that the opinion that stricter gun regulations can end gun violence is wrong and that it is a myth that needs to be debunked. If you want to read more from them, feel free to check out their gun violence prevention site Armed With Reason.
A Criminologist’s Case Against Gun Control by Jacob Davidson, Time
Davidson takes a scholarly approach on the issue. He attempts to give a definition of gun control and critically scrutinize the most common gun control approaches and methods. The article also includes valuable input from James Jacobs, the director of the Center for Research in Crime and Justice at New York University School of Law.
‘American Sniper’ Widow: Gun Control Won’t Protect Us by Taya Kyle, CNN
This emotional piece is written by the widow of Chris Kyle whose tragic story was put on screen in American Sniper. If you want to know more about her take on gun control policy, you can read about it on her book American Wife: A Memoir of Love, War, Faith, and Renewal.
Gun Control Isn’t the Answer by James Q. Wilson, LA Times
As a recognized author of books on crime and a respected teacher at Pepperdine University, Wilson uses his expertise to analyze what exactly pro gun control side has to offer. He concludes that they are being too populist and have no concrete plan of action. For instance, he points out that they don’t suggest anything regarding the existing gun-owning individuals.
How Gun Control Kills by Jack Hunter, The American Conservative
Hunter works of Rand Paul, the conservative senator. The article focuses on stories where gun-owning individuals helped to confront crime and violence, as opposed to the stories where such individuals cause violence – that the pro gun control lobbyists like to manipulate.
Why Gun Owners Are Right to Fight Against Gun Control by David T. Hardy, Reason.com
Hardy is a practicing attorney from Arizona. He blames pro gun control activists for being deaf to arguments from the anti gun control camp and incapable of a constructive dialogue. According to him, they only see their position and will not rest until all individual firearm possession is banned for good.
Being well-informed about the gun control debate is crucial for writing an excellent gun control essay, but it is still only half the battle. You still need to know what kind of essay you have to submit and what your teacher expects of you. Here are the kinds of gun control essays that you may have to write:
Since gun control is an extremely debatable topic, it is most exciting to talk about which side of the debate is right. This is why, students most often have to write either argumentative or persuasive essays on gun control.
If you have to write a persuasive essay, you know what you should do first – pick a topic that can inspire a debate between at least two opposing sides. At least, in case with gun control, you don’t need to worry too much about that, because there are few more polarizing topics than this. You also need a compelling argument that you will defend. Here, you also have nothing to worry about, because both sides of the gun control debate have numerous compelling arguments.
As soon as the latter two elements are in place, it is the high time to start your research. Putting it briefly, first, you get yourself familiar with the relevant historical background of the issue, and then you collect expert opinions. Notably, you should not limit yourself to the expert opinions from your side of the debate. You should also be aware of what your opponents have to say, so you know how to rebuke their claims in advance.
As you know, a persuasive essay is the kind of essay where you have to convince a hypothetical opponent that your viewpoint on the subject is correct and theirs is not. So, this is your ultimate goal when writing such an essay and you should use all means at hand to achieve it. By all means at hand we mean each of the three methods of persuasion:
Ultimately, you can use all three of these methods of persuasion in your gun control persuasive essay, but using all three is not necessary. You can even stick to just one, so long as you achieve your main goal – persuade your reader.
An argumentative essay on gun control is harder to write than a persuasive one because here you can only use logic to prove your point, i.e., you are limited to logos and not allowed to use other methods of persuasion. Gun control is the kind of topic that inspires emotion, so it is hard to stick to logic and restrain from emotion. Yet, the format of a gun control argumentative essay demands just that.
This is the most noteworthy feature by which you differ a gun control argumentative essay from a persuasive one. The rest – the overall goal, the research, and the writing process – will be the same.
If you get particularly interested in the discussion around the gun control regulations, you are sure to dig up much more material than one may need for an essay. Truly, this topic is so deep and broad, and it can be investigated under so many angles and on so many levels, that you can write much bigger papers about it: from a gun control research paper to a Ph. D. dissertation. In fact, you can devote your entire career to researching gun control.
Of course, a research paper is bigger in volume than an average essay, but still, a single research paper is not nearly enough to cover all there is to cover about gun control. So, if you set out to write a gun control research paper, the first thing for you to do is to narrow down your topic to make it more specific. Keep in mind that you don’t need to overthink it. Usually, students are allowed to re-formulate their research paper topics on the go, should they come up with something more interesting and original while conducting a research. Speaking of research, you are not limited to using printed sources by other authors. In fact, chances are you will be encouraged to conduct an empirical research of your own (for example, a survey) and refer to it among other sources – which should count no less than five.
The most important feature of a research paper is that it centers on the research data – facts, statistics, and analytics – and leaves out all speculations and opinions.