The Second Amendment …..the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

How to prepare for a debate

“The Great Debaters” is an inspiring story of courage, creativity and resolve. The debate begins with a resolution. It starts with a point to prove. It is a form of battle, fought with words. The topic for debate is:  “Civil disobedience is a moral weapon in the fight for justice.”

A great quote from the movie is: “Now is always the right time to do the right thing.” One of the most important lessons in The Great Debaters is found in one of its memorable lines:

“We do what we got to do, so we can do what we want to do.” 

Before preparing for the debate on gun control see extracts from this movie see below. At 1.36.30 see how the students prepare their topic  Civil disobedience is a moral weapon in the fight for justice. and 1:4:10; the debate starts.


The class is divided into 5 different groups with each a separate role. Each group spends about two hours gathering the necessary information to present their case in the best possible way. Remeber the facts you use in the debate have to be checked before presented. Use at least 3 different sources that you can mention in the debate.

The groups are as follows:

Group 1: NRA

You are a member of the NRA and you strongly oppose any form of gun control. Your task is to find out:

  • More about the NRA, what they stand for and how they argue
  • Why many Americans believe owning a gun is a human right
  • Why many Americans fear a strong government, and what this has to do with gun ownership
  • What the NRA believe are the best strategies for reducing gun-related homicides

Group 2: The Police

You represent the police. You see the consequences of guns in society every day. Your task is to find out:

  • Statistics and numbers that show the number of killed and injured every year
  • What kind of guns that are used
  • Information about different state legislation, and different crime rates in different states
  • Where the challenges are from the police’s point of view
  • What the police can do to reduce the problem

Group 3: The Brady Campaign

You support the Brady Campaign and work for stricter gun legislation in the USA. Your task is to find out:

  • What the Brady Campaign and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence stand for and how they work
  • Facts about the consequences of guns in American society
  • Why the Second Amendment is no longer relevant in today’s American society
  • What the best strategies are for reducing gun-related homicides

Group 4: Historian

You are a historian with a special interest in early American history. Your task is to find out:

  • The background and consequences of the Second Amendment
  • Why the Founding Fathers included the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights
  • How the Second Amendment can be interpreted
  • Why guns are so important for Americans, from a historical point of view

Group 5: Radio show hosts

  • Your role is to heat up the debate.
  • Take the Vegas incident as a starter and try to get the different interest groups engaged.
  • Be sure to question any numbers and facts that are not backed up by sources. Read up on all sides.

The debate:

How to conduct yourself on a debate. Look at the BBC advice here. Write up your points to use, if you forget your best arguments you lose. Use a camera on your phone or Mac to videotape the debate. Take a test first to be sure everyone is seen and heard.

Thanks to my colleague Kristian Otterstad Andresen for graciously sharing most of this lesson plan with me!

I would love to hear from you