In Canada, 2012 has been named the “summer of gun violence”. According to Toronto’s police chief, other years have been worse; however, there was a deadly shooting in Toronto’s Eaton Centre shopping mall on June 2nd, and a horrific shooting at a block party a month later. Though it’s illegal for the average Canadian to have an assault weapon, many guns are smuggled into Canada from the US.
On Friday, July 20th, a single gunman entered a Colorado cinema, killing 12 people and injuring 58. One of the women who died at the cinema had actually escaped the Eaton Centre shooting a few weeks earlier. She was excited about seeing the new Batman film, and tweeted about it moments before she was killed. The alleged gunman, who identified himself to police as the “the Joker,” also booby trapped his apartment with explosives. Will you be talking about this news story in class this week?
Do you enjoy using authentic materials in the classroom? Share an article about this story with your high or advanced level students (paraphrase it for lower levels). The Financial Times published an article titled, Obama To Maintain Existing Gun Laws. Another article with facts about the shooting can be found here: World Gets First Look At Colorada Shooting Suspect. Have a discussion about the right to bear arms. Should the gun laws be changed? Should gun violence be a priority of the government? Here are some questions to get your students talking.
- Why do you think President Obama is avoiding talking about gun control at this time of his career?
- How important is it for a leader of a country to meet with victims of a major crime like this?
- The alleged killer was not known as a dangerous person. He was an intelligent graduate student who reportedly could only find work at McDonald’s. Find out about the term “go postal”. How does this word relate to the recent shooting at the cinema?
- Many fellow students and neighbors reported that the gunman in Colorado was a “forgettable” character. Crime experts say that this is a common denominator in many public shootings. If these murderers are looking for fame and attention, should the media refrain from publishing photos and names of the killers?
- The alleged gunman purchased a large amount of ammunition on the Internet in a short amount of time. Should there be laws or restrictions in place to prevent such stockpiling?
- According to the article, how do the majority of Americans feel about the right to bear arms? How do you feel about the right to own a gun for self-defence?
- The accused gunman at the cinema reportedly called himself “the Joker” and dyed his hair red. Do you think he was trying to reenact a scene from a cartoon? Is violence in movies, video games, and books partly to blame for crimes like this?
- Do you agree or disagree with this senator’s statement (below)?
“You simply can’t keep these weapons out of the hands of sick, demented individuals who want to do harm. And when you try to do it, you restrict our freedoms.” Ron Jonson, Republican senator to Fox News
Related in the ESL-Library
If you are looking for a related ready-made lesson plan to use in your English classroom, please try our Mini-Debates lesson plan on Gun Laws. This lesson includes warm up questions, a reading, comprehension questions, vocabulary review and two debate topics. Watch next month for our NEW Teacher’s Guide on using our Mini-Debates lesson plans.