Student Essay Gun Control

Gun control is a hot button issue, especially in the wake of so many recent, tragic mass shootings. It is also a polarizing issue, which means that it tends to divide people.

When you’re writing an argumentative essay, it generally doesn’t matter what side of an issue you take. What matters is that you take a side and support whichever position you choose.

In the case of the gun control issue, you could plausibly—and defensibly—take either side: strict regulation up to and including an outright ban on firearms or complete legalization of individual gun ownership.

Either way, you’re going to need strong evidence.

With this in mind, I’ve sourced 12 gun control articles from online publications that illustrate both sides of the debate, plus two articles that can help you understand the background of the issue.

For each article, I’ve included the author’s basic point and why the article is a worthwhile resource, as well as citations for APA and MLA 7th and MLA 8th editions.

No matter what side you argue, this post will point you to some credible sources for your argumentative gun control essay.

6 Supporting Gun Control Articles

Pro-gun control article #1: Gun Control and the Constitution: Should We Amend the Second Amendment?

This article discusses what is perhaps the greatest source of contention in the entire debate: the Second Amendment’s wording.

The author quotes former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who advocates changing the Second Amendment’s confusing language to clarify that it only applies to those serving in a militia.

Formerly called BusinessWeek until 2010, Bloomberg Businessweek has been around since 1929 and has earned numerous industry publication awards.

APA Citation

Barrett, P. M. (2014, February 10). Gun control and the Constitution: Should we amend the Second Amendment? Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-02-20/gun-control-and-the-constitution-should-we-amend-the-second-amendment

7th Edition MLA Citation

Barrett, Paul M. “Gun Control and the Constitution: Should We Amend the Second Amendment?” Bloomberg Businessweek. Bloomberg, 20 Feb. 2014. Web. 10 July 2016.

8th Edition MLA Citation

Barrett, Paul M. “Gun Control and the Constitution: Should We Amend the Second Amendment?” Bloomberg Businessweek, 20 Feb. 2014, www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-02-20/gun-control-and-the-constitution-should-we-amend-the-second-amendment. Accessed 10 July 2016.

A quick note about citations. I’ve included both MLA 7th edition and MLA 8th edition, as well as APA, citations for each article that you can use if you decide to reference the source in your gun control essay.

Because the MLA 8th edition went into effect in early 2016, not all professors/schools will require the use of the new format. Check with your professor to see which edition he or she prefers.

The 8th edition of MLA also suggests that you include the URL in each entry. Including the date you accessed an online source is now optional. I’ve included both pieces of information in my examples.

(Again, check with your professor to see what he or she prefers.)

Pro-gun control article #2: It’s Time to Ban Guns. Yes, All of Them.

Bovy tackles the gun issue by arguing that the debate should not be about closing loopholes in gun control. She doesn’t argue that specific types of guns should be banned, but argues that all guns should be banned.

This article is published by New Republic, which “…was founded in 1914 as a journal of opinion which seeks to meet the challenge of a new time” (NewRepublic.com). “Today, the New Republic is the voice of creative thinkers, united by a collective desire to challenge the status quo” (NewRepublic.com).

APA Citation

Bovey, P. M. (2015, December 10). It’s time to ban guns. Yes, all of them. New Republic. Retrieved from http://www.newrepublic.com/article/125498/its-time-ban-guns-yes-them

7th Edition MLA Citation

Bovey, Phoebe, M. “It’s Time to Ban Guns. Yes, All of Them.” New Republic. New Republic, 10 Dec. 2015. Web. 10 July 2016.

8th Edition MLA Citation

Bovey, Phoebe, M. “It’s Time to Ban Guns. Yes, All of Them.” New Republic, 10 Dec. 2015, newrepublic.com/article/125498/its-time-ban-guns-yes-them. Accessed 10 July 2016.

Pro-gun control article #3: Battleground America

This well-researched article was written in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin shooting. It covers three main areas:

  • An in-depth discussion of the meaning of existing gun laws and the Second Amendment.
  • The difference between now and the time in which the Amendment was drafted.
  • How the drastically increased killing power of modern firearms makes any reference to the laws crafted two centuries ago obsolete.

LePore is a frequent contributor to TheNew Yorker, as well as many other national news magazines.

APA Citation

LePore, J. (2012, April 23). Battleground America. The New Yorker. Retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/04/23/battleground-america

7th Edition MLA Citation

LePore, Jill. “Battleground America.” The New Yorker. The New Yorker, 23 Apr. 2012. Web. 10 July 2016.

8th Edition MLA Citation

LePore, Jill. “Battleground America.” The New Yorker, 23 Apr. 2012, www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/04/23/battleground-america. Accessed 10 July 2016.

Pro-gun control article #4: Why We Can’t Talk About Gun Control

Hamblin discusses one of the most problematic aspects of the gun control debate: the fact that it is so politicized.

Here, the author explains his opinion by framing it in his own experiences. He states that he lost his job when he published a column arguing that it’s possible to regulate guns without infringing on individuals’ rights.

Hamblin is a frequent contributor and senior editor at TheAtlantic.

APA Citation

Hamblin, J. (2014, June 29). Why we can’t talk about gun control. The Atlantic. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive /2014/06/how-to-interpret-the-second-amendment/373664

7th Edition MLA Citation

Hamblin, James. “Why We Can’t Talk About Gun Control.” The Atlantic. The Atlantic Monthly Group, 29 June 2014. Web. 10 July 2016.

8th Edition MLA Citation

Hamblin, James. “Why We Can’t Talk About Gun Control.” The Atlantic, The Atlantic Monthly Group, 29 June 2014, www.theatlantic.com/politics /archive/2014/06/how-to-interpret-the-second-amendment/373664. Accessed 10 July 2016.

Pro-gun control article #5: California’s proposed gun laws won’t change our culture of violence, but they will make us safer

This editorial by the the LA Times Editorial Board explains that, even though California has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, there are still many loopholes. The editorial board argues that stricter regulations for purchasing guns and ammunition need to be in place to stop gun violence.

The Los Angeles Times is a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper that has been in publication for more than 134 years.

APA Citation

Times Editorial Board. (2016, April 22). California’s proposed gun laws won’t change our culture of violence, but they will make us safer. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-adv-california-guns-20160422-story

7th Edition MLA Citation

Times Editorial Board. “California’s Proposed Gun Laws Won’t Change Our Culture of Violence, but They Will Make Us Safer.” LATimes.comLos Angeles Times Media Group, 22 Apr. 2016. Web. 10 July 2016.

8th Edition MLA Citation

Times Editorial Board. “California’s Proposed Gun Laws Won’t Change Our Culture of Violence, but They Will Make Us Safer.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times Media Group, 22 Apr. 2016, www.latimes.com/opinion/ editorials/la-ed-adv-california-guns-20160422-story. Accessed 10 July 2016.

Pro-gun control article #6: 4 Pro-Gun Arguments We’re Sick of Hearing

Though you might not automatically think hard-hitting news when you think of Rolling Stone magazine, the author of this brief article succinctly sums up four common pro-gun arguments and explains why she doesn’t feel they’re effective.

Rolling Stone covers a variety of cultural, music, social, and political news and is a well-established magazine.

APA Citation

Marcotte, A. (2015, October 1). 4 pro-gun arguments we’re sick of hearing. Rolling Stone. Retrieved from http://www.rollingstone.com/ politics/news/4-pro-gun-arguments-were-sick-of-hearing-20151001

7th Edition MLA Citation

Marcotte, Amanda. “4 Pro-Gun Arguments We’re Sick of Hearing.” Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone, 1 Oct. 2015. Web. 10 July 2016.

8th Edition MLA Citation

Marcotte, Amanda. “4 Pro-Gun Arguments We’re Sick of Hearing.” Rolling Stone, 1 Oct. 2015, www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/4-pro-gun-arguments-were-sick-of-hearing-20151001. Accessed 10 July 2016.

Now that we’ve examined articles in favor of gun control, let’s take a look at a few articles that are against gun control.

6 Opposing Gun Control Articles

Anti-gun control article #1: 5 arguments against gun control — and why they are all wrong

Published in the LA Times, this op-ed piece is written by Evan DeFilippis and Devin Hughes, who are the founders of the gun violence prevention site Armed With Reason.

The authors argue that gun control laws don’t deter criminals and cannot prevent mass shootings.

APA Citation

DeFillipis, E., & Hughes, D. (2016). 5 arguments against gun control—and why they are all wrong. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/ opinion/op-ed/la-oe-defilippis-hughes-gun-myths-debunked-20160708-snap-story

7th Edition MLA Citation

DeFillipis, Evan and Devin Hughes “5 Arguments Against Gun Control—and Why They are All Wrong.” LATimes.com. Los Angeles Times, 8 July 2016. Web. 10 July 2016.

8th Edition MLA Citation

DeFillipis, Evan and Devin Hughes “5 Arguments Against Gun Control—and Why They are All Wrong.” Los Angeles Times, 8 July 2016, www.latimes.com/ opinion/op-ed/la-oe-defilippis-hughes-gun-myths-debunked-20160708-snap-story. Accessed 10 July 2016.

Anti-gun control article #2: Gun control isn’t the answer

Wilson, an author of several books about crime and a teaching fellow at Pepperdine University, asks an interesting question: how could or would we ever get rid of the hundreds of millions of guns that already exist in the United States?

He takes the stance that banning firearms is pointless, that “the genie is out of the bottle.” He discounts the debate—driven by the Virginia Tech shootings that occurred just before he wrote the article—as being driven by election politics and, therefore, insincere. Though this source is a bit older, it still raises a valid question.

APA Citation

Wilson, J. Q. (2007, April 20). Gun control isn’t the answer. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved fromhttp://www.latimes.com/la-oe-wilson20apr20-story.html

7th Edition MLA Citation

Wilson, James Q. “Gun Control Isn’t the Answer.” LATimes.com. Los Angeles Times, 20 Apr. 2007. Web. 10 July 2016.

8th Edition MLA Citation

Wilson, James Q. “Gun Control Isn’t the Answer.” Los Angeles Times, 20 Apr. 2007, www.latimes.com/la-oe-wilson20apr20-story.html. Accessed 10 July 2016.

Anti-gun control article #3: Why Gun Owners are Right to Fight Against Gun Control

Hardy argues that sweeping gun control legislation proposed by the anti-gun lobby leaves no room for compromise. He then does a U-turn and complains about the slippery-slope nature of bans on one kind of weapon, such as assault weapons or sniper rifles, leading slowly but surely to total prohibition.

Hardy fears that the gun control lobby is on a crusade to wipe out individual gun ownership altogether.

Hardy is an Arizona attorney and a Second Amendment scholar and writer.

APA Citation

Hardy, D. T. (2013, July 18). Why gun owners are right to fight against gun control. Reason.com. Retrieved from http://www.reason.com/archives/ 2013/07/18/why-second-amendment-supporters-are-righ

7th Edition MLA Citation

Hardy, David T. “Why Gun Owners are Right to Fight Against Gun Control.” Reason.com. Reason Foundation, 18 July 2013. Web. 10 July 2016.

8th Edition MLA Citation

Hardy, David T. “Why Gun Owners are Right to Fight Against Gun Control.” Reason.com, Reason Foundation, 18 July 2013, reason.com/ archives/2013/07/18/why-second-amendment-supporters-are-righ. Accessed 10 July 2016.

Anti-gun control article #4: ‘American Sniper’ widow: Gun control won’t protect us

This opinion piece discusses one woman’s experience with gun violence and why she believes gun control is not the answer.

Taya Kyle, the writer of this article, is also the author of American Wife: A Memoir of Love, War, Faith, and Renewal. The movie American Sniper was based on her late husband, Chris Kyle.

APA Citation

Kyle, T. (2013, July 18). ‘American Sniper’ widow: Gun control won’t protect us. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/07/opinions/taya-kyle-gun-control

7th Edition MLA Citation

Kyle, Taya. “‘American Sniper’ Widow: Gun Control Won’t Protect Us.” CNN.com. Cable News Network, 18 July 2013. Web. 10 July 2016.

8th Edition MLA Citation

Kyle, Taya. “‘American Sniper’ Widow: Gun Control Won’t Protect Us.” CNN, 18 July 2013, www.cnn.com/2016/01/07/opinions/taya-kyle-gun-control. Accessed 10 July 2016.

Anti-gun control article #5: A Criminologist’s Case Against Gun Control

This article includes an interview with James Jacobs, director of the Center for Research in Crime and Justice at New York University School of Law. He is also a professor of constitutional law and the author of Can Gun Control Work?

In this article, Jacobs examines misunderstandings about gun control and examines the effectiveness of various gun control strategies.

APA Citation

Davidson, J. (2015, December 1). A criminologist’s case against gun control. Time. Retrieved from http://www.time.com/4100408/a-criminologists-case-against-gun-control

7th Edition MLA Citation

Davidson, Jacob. “‘A Criminologist’s Case Against Gun Control.” Time.com. Time Inc., 1 Dec. 2015. Web. 10 July 2016.

8th Edition MLA Citation

Davidson, Jacob. “‘A Criminologist’s Case Against Gun Control.” Time, 1 Dec. 2015, time.com/4100408/a-criminologists-case-against-gun-control. Accessed 10 July 2016.

Anti-gun control article #6: How Gun Control Kills

The author gives examples of incidents of gun violence that were stopped by people carrying guns, arguing that had such people not been on the scene, the results would have been worse.

Hunter is an aide to conservative senator Rand Paul.

APA Citation

Hunter, J. (2012, December 27). How gun control kills. The American Conservative. Retrieved from http://www.theamericanconservative.com/ articles/how-gun-control-kills

7th Edition MLA Citation

Hunter, Jack. “How Gun Control Kills.” The American Conservative. Burr Media Group, 27 Dec. 2012. Web. 10 July 2016.

8th Edition MLA Citation

Hunter, Jack. “How Gun Control Kills.” The American Conservative, Burr Media Group, 27 Dec. 2012, www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/how-gun-control-kills. Accessed 10 July 2016.

2 Resources About the Gun Control Debate

If you’re looking for articles with more background on the subject, check out these two resources that provide an overview of gun control and a variety of discussions about the topic.

Resource #1: Guns in America

In 2015–2016, the well-respected news source CNN aired a series of programming titled Guns in America. This resource contains both articles and videos about a wide array of gun-related topics, including town-hall meetings, an interview with President Obama, gun violence statistics, interviews with the NRA, a discussion of the gun industry, and segments about guns and police.

The articles and videos are too numerous to cite in this post, but I’ve included one sample to help illustrate how you might cite these resources.

APA Citation

Simon, M., & Sanchez, R. (2015, December 4). U.S. gun violence: The story in charts and graphs. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/ 04/us/gun-violence-graphics/index.html

7th Edition MLA Citation

Simon, Mallory and Ray Sanchez. “U.S. Gun Violence: The Story in Charts and Graphs.” CNN.com. Cable News Network,4 Dec. 2015. Web. 10 July 2016.

8th Edition MLA Citation

Simon, Mallory and Ray Sanchez. “U.S. Gun Violence: The Story in Charts and Graphs.” CNN, 4 Dec. 2015, cnn.com/2015/12/04/us/gun-violence-graphics/index.html. Accessed 10 July 2016.

Resource #2: Gun Control Explained

This article, published by the The New York Times, provides broad definitions of gun control, includes arguments both for and against gun control, and even speculates as to why it’s so difficult to solve the debate.

APA Citation

Perez-Pena, R. (2015, October 7). Gun control explained. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/10/ 07/us/gun-control-explained.html?_r=0

7th Edition MLA Citation

Perez-Pena, Richard. “Gun Control Explained.” NYTimes.com. The New York Times Company,7 Oct. 2015. Web. 10 July 2016.

8th Edition MLA Citation

Perez-Pena, Richard. “Gun Control Explained.” The New York Times, 7 Oct. 2015, nytimes.com/interactive/2015/10/07/us/gun-control-explained.html?_r=0. Accessed 10 July 2016.

Putting it All Together

You can cite these or any of thousands of other gun control articles to buttress your argument. (Read 5 Best Resources to Help With Writing a Research Paper if you need assistance researching more scholarly sources.)

Whichever side of the issue you take, make sure to mention the source, cite it properly (in-text and in your Works Cited or References list), and format direct quotations, summaries, and paraphrases per MLA 7th edition, MLA 8th edition, or APA guidelines.

If you copy the APA or MLA citations I created above, be sure to update the accessed date (10 July 2016) to the date that you accessed the article.

Keep in mind that there will be very, very few sources (including the ones I used above) that are totally objective. Most writers—and most websites—will be catering to an audience. For a fuller list of issues on both sides of the debate, check out these Top Pro & Con Arguments on gun control.

Your job is to filter out the bias and see what value a given person’s argument really has. Some of the most rabid commentators on both sides of the issue actually make good points—you just have to get past all the screaming.

Once you’re ready to start writing, check out these sample essays on gun control for some ideas on how to put your paper together.

If you need help with writing your essay, read How to Write a Research Paper: a Step-by-Step Guide. Need help with overall formatting according to the style guide you’re using? Give these resources a try:

When you’re finished drafting your argument, don’t forget to have an editor proofread your essay for you.

Good luck!

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The Right To Keep And Bear Arms - Student Essay

By Anonymous 14-yr old writing her essay for 8th grade English class

In 1791, the founders of the United States wrote, "A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." This is the Second Amendment, guaranteeing American citizens the right to self-protection and safety. Society is safer when people carry guns because it gives citizens the ability to protect themselves from threats like criminals, such as violent intruders and attackers, as well as violent shooters.

People should be able to carry firearms because your most fundamental right is your right to defend your life, and guns help secure that. More than 200 years ago, our founding fathers wrote the Second Amendment, guaranteeing that, "The right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." Even the founding fathers understood that having the means to defend yourself was necessary as a part of a free society. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment specifically protects Americans' right to own a handgun for protection. This means that any American citizen has the right to defend themselves. Wayne Lapierre, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Rifle Association (N.R.A.) stated,"Self-defense is our birthright. Firearms secure that birthright." Everyone has the right to defend themselves, and guns help protect that right.

For example, guns make women safer by allowing them to defend themselves from violent attackers. Armed with a gun, a woman can have advantage over any attacker. Armed women can protect themselves from attackers and fight back without a chance of getting hurt. The article, Testimony of Gayle S. Trotter, admitted that, "Over 90% of violent crimes occur without a firearm." This is because attackers use their size and physical strength to prey on women who are at a severe disadvantage. Since most violent attackers don't use guns, an armed woman has a great advantage over her assailant, making guns the great equalizer. Some people say that there are other ways women can defend themselves without using a gun. One example is mace, or pepper spray. However, a woman armed with mace would need the proximity of a hand-to-hand struggle, which would not be necessary if she had a firearm. Therefore, guns are a more reliable means of defense. To take a case in point, a woman from Dora, Alabama, who defended herself and her family against a 25-year-old intruder in her home with a firearm says, "There's so much talk about banning guns and gun control, but they're for protection. There was no way I could have fought him off." Guns keep women safe by giving them a means to defend themselves.

It is most important to understand that gun-control laws take away the protection of the people by disarming only the law-abiding citizens. The article, Testimony of Gayle S. Trotter, says, "Anti-gun legislation keeps guns away from the sane and law-abiding, but it does not keep guns out of the hands of criminals." This is because gun regulation affects only the guns of the law-abiding. Criminals will not be bound by such gestures because criminals don't listen to the law. More than 20,000 anti-gun laws are in effect throughout the United States. These laws don't do anything to help lessen violent crime. Wayne Lapierre, the CEO of the N.R.A., argues that, "All anti-gun laws do is put the innocent at the mercy of the lawless." In addition, President Barack Obama announced in 2013, "No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society." Even the president of the United States understands that gun laws do not affect violent criminals. Despite this, gun control advocates say the recent shootings prove that the nation's gun laws are too weak. However, nearly all mass shootings have occurred in gun-free zones. This is because violent shooters know that people in gun-free zones are not armed, meaning they don't have an efficient means to protect themselves. For instance, in 1976, Washington D.C. outlawed handguns, even for self-defense in homes. After that, armed crime skyrocketed, earning the nation's capital the shameful nickname, the "Murder Capital." Violent crimes occur the most in places with the toughest gun control laws because, as the article Testimony says, "These laws make easy targets of the sane and law-abiding." All anti-gun laws do is put citizens in danger by disarming them.

It is clear, then, that all Americans have the right to defend themselves. Guns are the most reliable means of defense, and give citizens the ability to protect themselves from violent attackers and fight back without a chance of getting hurt. All anti-gun laws do is take away the protection of citizens by disarming them, putting them in danger. As President Barack Obama said, "No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society." Therefore, society is safer when people carry guns because it gives citizens the ability to protect themselves from violent attacks.


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