Gun Control & The Newtown School Shooting (Upper-Intermediate ESL Lesson Plan)

Download the Gun Control Lesson Plan (ESL) here: School-Shooting-Gun-Control-UppIntermediate-16122012.doc

Should handguns be legal?

Gun Control Lesson Plan (ESL): Upper-Intermediate

Background: Twenty children and 6 adults were killed on December 14th when a 20-year old gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and began shooting. Several assault-style weapons were found at the scene. These guns were registered to the shooter’s mother, a gun enthusiast. On the same morning, the gunman shot his mother before driving off to the school. People who knew him in high school described him as an “intelligent, but nervous” loner who avoided attention.
Discuss the following comments taken from the Internet with your classmates:
1.     Guns save far more lives than they take. More lives are saved in a week by guns used by civilians, than criminals take in a year. Look up the facts!! The lives are on the shoulders of those who make it illegal for teachers to carry guns to protect themselves in situations like this. – ArmedAmerican
2.     I think schools should have security entrances with armed guards and metal detectors similar to courthouses and airports. It is no longer acceptable for it to be harder to get on a plane than it is to walk into a school. – Scm
3.     Instead of blaming guns, we need to focus on: getting better, more comprehensive mental health services and facilities; addressing these issues in their early stages when they first appear in childhood or puberty instead of assuming ‘it’s just a phase’ or ‘they’ll grow out of it;’ not lettingdrug manufacturers influence doctors into prescribing anti-depressants or whatever at the first sign of trouble; getting people to understand that they won’t be punished or labeled weird for seeking help. – brocore (adapted)
4.     We have raised an entire generation on the theory that we must protect their self-esteem at all costs. Then, while mom and dad had better things to do, we sat them in front of Grand Theft Auto and completely desensitized them to violence. So, if we stop shielding kids from every possible disappointment in life, so that when they face one, they are prepared for it; if we take the XBox away once in awhile; and if we actually talk to our kids occasionally, we might prevent some of this… – Gesa
Lastly, an argument that has been (probably falsely) attributed to actor Morgan Freeman blames the media. The author states that these killings happen because we treat the shooters like celebrities. Media agencies like CNN rank each shooting statistically like a competition. Articles focus on the shooter and the terrible details of the crime because that’s what sells. Instead of killing themselves in their basements, gunmen carry out violent attacks in places such as schools so they can be remembered as horrible monsters. The author concludes that we should focus on remembering the victims, not the killers.

Gun Control Lesson Plan (ESL): Vocabulary Matching

Match the words with their meaning as used in the news lesson.
sth on sb’s shoulders
at all costs
shield (verb)
attribute sth to sth/sb
  • enthusiast – a person who is very interested in sth and spends a lot of time dong it
  • loner – a person who is often alone
  • sth on sb’s shoulders – blame, guilt, etc, that someone must take responsibility for
  • comprehensive – complete, thorough
  • puberty – the period of sexual development in the teenage years
  • phase – a stage in a process of development
  • self-esteem – a feeling of being happy with your own abilities or character
  • at all costs – regardless of what is required
  • desensitize – make less sensitive to sth, e.g. violence
  • shield – protect
  • attribute sth to sth/sb – identify sb/sth as the source of sth

Gun Control Lesson Plan (ESL): Homework

Vocabulary: Circle the words above that you did not know. Make sentences with them as homework.

Writing: Imagine you are Barack Obama. Write a short speech to give to the people Newtown.

Gun Control Lesson Plan (ESL): Discussion Questions

1)     What measures are in place to protect your safety right now? Are they sufficient?
2)     What are the best strategies for self-defense?
3)     Is your country becoming more or less violent?
4)     Who in society should be allowed to carry weapons? What kind of weapons?
5)     Do video games, TV, and movies have a negative influence on youth?

Gun Control Lesson Plan (ESL) copyright Matthew Barton of

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2 comments on “Gun Control & The Newtown School Shooting (Upper-Intermediate ESL Lesson Plan)

  1. Mehtab (Posted on 5-29-2013 at 18:10) Reply

    1. In my opinion, teachers should not be allowed to carry firearms in school! Teachers can use the firearm to shoot somebody they have personal problems with, if they become very desperate; and that is not applicable.
    The innocent lives are not on the shoulders of those who make it illegal for people to carry firearms, its is rather in their own hands. Self-defence is a good way to defend others as well as yourself, a gun can’t always do the job.

    2. First of all, the setting is a school and not an area taken over by military troops. Pupils are there for study. Yes, they shouldn’t feel unsafe during sessions, but that doesn’t mean we should have armed guards at the entrances. Learn self-defence rather than being dependent on somebody else to defend you.

    3. I fully agree.

    4. Also related to post #3; it’s surely an effective way to get to know if the child or whoever it tends to be, has a troublesome period.

    1. Anonymous (Posted on 5-29-2013 at 20:54) Reply

      Well written! About self-defence: I’m sure a gun-enthusiast would say that self-defence (e.g. karate) can’t stop a bullet. (But of course, if no one had guns, then there would be no bullets to stop. This would be the perfect world for me.)

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