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Gun Control Debate

1. How does the unhindered power of Special Interest Groups affect the perception of legitimacy of the American legislative process? (Hint…is our democracy made better or worse when gun control laws are so heavily influenced by the gun lobby?)

DIRECTIONS for Sections 102 AND 103
Your take-home essay requires you to answer TWO QUESTIONS (see page 3).
The following RULES apply.
• You MUST provide me with 2 copies of your work;both are due at the beginning of class on 10/14/15.
1. An electronic copy must be UPLOADED ON CANVAS via Turnitin– the internet-based, plagiarism-prevention service available free to you via FSW.
2. A printed copy must be handed to me.
• Your paper must be aminimum ofFOUR FULL-PAGES.
o Any pages short of the required limit will result in a relative % deduction in your grade (e.g., a 3 paper will earn, at MOST, a 75% grade, 2 page paper = 50%).
o The Title Page and the Works Cited page do not count as part of the 4-pages.
• Your paper must be double-spaced, 12-Times Roman, normal letter spacing and 1-inch margins.
• You MUST USE a separate title page that includes:
o Name, student ID number AND Class Section.
• You MUST USE a separate page for your “Works Cited”
o Your essay must useat least SIX professional sources/references.
 Wikipedia is NOT an acceptable source.
• Plagiarism is unacceptable and WILL result in a grade of 0% for the assignment. Refer to syllabus for details and ask me if you are uncertain.
• You must use concepts from our class and from your textbook.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) and Gun Control Laws in America
In a time when each new accidental death, school shooting, or use of guns during political violence draws unprecedented and polemical media attention, it is becoming difficult to steer clear of the contentious issue of gun control in the United States. Although the topic is controversial, analysis of the role of the NRA (a Special Interest Group) in the crafting of public policy in Americagives you an opportunity to study pluralism, power and influence in ourrepresentative democracy and model of federalism.
This essay asks you to use a narrow case (the role the NRA inopposing gun control laws in America) to discussbroad political forces (the real-world consequences of the unrestrained influence of Special Interest Groups in the federal legislative process in America).
It does not ask you treat the NRA the way that Achilles did Hector in front of the Gates of Troy, nor does it ask you to treat the NRA as the people of Jerusalem treated Jesus during his triumphal entrance into the city during Palm Sunday. This is NOT to be a paper about “Do guns kill people or do people kill people?”
I am looking for sophisticated political analysis of both the pros and cons of the role of Special Interest Groupsin American Federalism.

Five Myths about Gun Control:

1. Gun control is a losing battle for Democrats.
In his 2004 memoir, Bill Clinton wrote that Democrats lost control of Congress in the 1994 midterm elections because they had passed an assault-weapons ban that year. Many Democrats believe that Al Gore lost the 2000 presidential race because of his embrace of stronger gun laws during the Democratic primaries.But close study of these and other elections shows otherwise. In the Republican victories of 1994, many incumbent Democrats in traditionally GOP-leaning districts couldn’t hold on to their seats, regardless of their position on the gun control. Research on national elections from 2004 to 2010 found that the NRA had little success electing pro-gun candidates over those not favored by the group.The lesson is not a new one in American politics: Single issues rarely determine electoral outcomes, and guns are no exception.

2. Guns are deadliest as murder weapons.
Gun murders grab headlines, but more Americans die every year from gun suicides than gun homicides. In 2009, for example, almost 11,500 Americans were killed by someone else with a gun, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but more than 18,000 killed themselves with a firearm.Some may shrug and say that suicidal individuals without guns would simply turn to another method. This is not supported by research. Not only do numerous studies link the presence of guns to elevated suicide rates, but suicide by gun is far more lethal than other methods. The “success rate” of gun suicide is about 90 percent, compared with less than 30 percent for poisoning, for example. Firearms also require the least amount of persistence and effort; the ease of pulling a trigger makes a gun more appealing to those who act on impulse.

3. America’s schools have become shooting galleries.
From Columbine to Sandy Hook, few crimes are more heinous than the killing of children. But schools are remarkably safe for kids — safer than their homes or the streets. Out of a school-age population of roughly 50 million, the number of violent school deaths between 1992 and 2010 did not exceed 63 per year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In other words, the odds of a child dying from a violent attack at school are about one in a million.That statistic is cold comfort to the families of the children slain in Connecticut and elsewhere. But schools continue to be safe places, and since the Sandy Hook shooting, many have implemented security procedures to foil those contemplating crimes in the classroom. These measures include lockdown drills, metal detectors and security cameras, extra training for faculty and staff, and the presence of police officers assigned to regular school duty.

4. Gun regulations are incompatible with America’s gun heritage.
When we think of settlers of colonial America and the 19th-century Wild West, we often picture fearless frontiersmen defending hearth and home from predators. But while gun possession is as old as the country, so is gun regulation.In 1619, the Virginia House of Burgesses passed a law making the transfer of guns to Native Americans punishable by death. Other laws across the colonies criminalized selling or giving firearms to slaves, indentured servants, Catholics, vagrants and those who refused to swear a loyalty oath to revolutionary forces. Guns could be confiscated or kept in central locations for the defense of the community. And in the late 1700s and early 1800s, the state and federal governments conducted several arms censuses. (Imagine what the NRA would say if government officials went door to door today asking people how many guns they owned and whether they were functional.)On the western frontier in the 19th century, to stave off violence, new towns and cities enacted laws to bar carrying guns. In fact, the typical western town had stricter gun laws than many 21st-century states.

5. The Second Amendment was intended to protect the right of Americans to rise up against a tyrannical government.
This canard is repeated with disturbing frequency. The Constitution, in Article I, allows armed citizens in militias to “suppress Insurrections,” not cause them. The Constitution defines treason as “levying War” against the government in Article III, and the states can ask the federal government for assistance “against domestic Violence” under Article IV.Our system provides peaceful means for citizens to air grievances and change policy, from the ballot box to the jury box to the right to peacefully assemble. If violence against an oppressive government were somehow countenanced in the Second Amendment, then Timothy McVeigh and Lee Harvey Oswald would have been vindicated for their heinous actions. But as constitutional scholar Roscoe Pound noted, a “legal right of the citizen to wage war on the government is something that cannot be admitted” because it would “defeat the whole Bill of Rights” — including the Second Amendment.


1. Which aspectsof our federal system affect therelationship between Congress and Special Interest Groups? How do Special Interest Groups affect the crafting oflaws in America? (Hint…how does this play out in gun control laws?)

1. How does the unhindered power of Special Interest Groups affect the perception of legitimacy of the American legislative process?(Hint…is our democracy made better or worse when gun control laws are so heavily influenced by the gun lobby?)

Good luck, Bonne Chance, Buena Suerte, VielGlück, ĂdhMŏr…so forth and so on.

BIG hint…use concepts from our class (lecture and textbook).
This is not supposed to be an opinion column.

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Category: Sample Questions