Bill of Rights in the News: Gun Rights in the 21st Century

In the wake of recent tragic shootings, there has been a significant revival of the debate over the Second Amendment and gun control. The debate, in broad generalities, is split between two sides. On one side are gun control advocates who believe that stricter regulation of guns would reduce violence. On the other side are gun rights advocates, who believe that the right to own a gun is fundamental and that more restrictions on gun ownership do not decrease violence.

Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights is on permanent display at the National Archives in Washington, DC. This original joint resolution of Congress proposed 12 amendments to the United States Constitution, but only 10 were ratified. Added to the Constitution in 1791 as the first 10 amendments, the Bill of Rights explicitly protected freedom of speech, of the press, of religion, and of assembly, among many other rights.

Grades 4, 5, 6-12
Rights and Responsibilities
Primary Sources

Guns and School Safety

The Constitutional Rights Foundation provides resources to help students, teachers, administrators, and districts think about the best way forward for their communities and states. Resources include a simulation activity in which students act as state legislators trying to design the most effective policy for reduction of gun violence in their state (grades 9-12); a civil conversation in which students participate in a small-group discussion (middle school); talking points on the causes of school violence; and more.

Grades 7-12
Rights and Responsibilities
Lesson Plans

Voices of History

Voices of History is a collection of eight Bill of Rights Institute curriculum resources including Being An American, Preserving the Bill of Rights, Founders and the Constitution, Supreme Court DBQs, Liberty and Security in Modern Times, Religious Liberty: An American Experiment, and Heroes and Villains. Teachers will have free access to each resources’ lessons plans and handouts.

Grades 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Foundations of Democracy
Books

Free Lesson Plans

The Bill of Rights Institute offers free eLessons to supplement current curriculum or to be used as independent lesson plans by educators in their own schedules. Teachers may subscribe to our newsletter and receive two free lesson plans each month, or simply visit our website and choose from our archive. Each eLesson contains historical content, connections to real life, classroom activities, downloadable PDFs, answer keys, discussion questions, and/or suggestions for further reading.

Documents of Freedom: History, Government, and Economics Through Primary Sources

This complete online textbook covers American history, government, and economic concepts. Resources include readings for students, activity directions for teachers, and handouts that are downloadable and printable for classroom use. Content is geared toward students in grades 8-12. All materials are aligned with Common Core and individual state standards.

Grades 8, 9, 10, 12
Foundations of Democracy
Assessments

From Provocative to Productive: Teaching Controversial Topics

Get first steps for creating a respectful yet vibrant environment for students to explore diverse ideas on controversial topics, from politics to profanity, religion to racism. Four guidelines and a debate leader checklist provide a foundation for those seeking to steer productive conversations about controversial subjects.