Understanding and Using Research on Gun Policy in America

An Interdisciplinary Unit Plan Based on RAND's Gun Policy in America Website, Suggested Grades 10–12

by Elaine Lin Wang, Rosanna Smart

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The RAND Corporation launched the Gun Policy in America initiative in January 2016 with the goal of creating objective, factual resources for policymakers and the public on the effects of gun laws. The primary goal was to create resources where policymakers and the general public can access unbiased information that facilitates the development of fair and effective gun policies, and all resources are accessible on the project website. Responding to feedback from teachers and colleagues, RAND researchers developed a unit plan centered on those resources. The unit is designed to help high school educators and students — who are increasingly interested in joining the conversation about gun policy and mobilized to respond to gun violence — access the high-quality, evidence-based materials on the website. The researchers' overarching goals in developing the unit are to guide students to understand existing research related to gun policy and deeply consider the complexity of gun policy–related issues. The lessons and activities engage students in critically reading and synthesizing research evidence and expert opinions, and the unit culminates in the students applying this information to present an argument for or against implementing a specific gun policy.

An editable, student-facing slide deck is also provided to support educators in implementing the unit.

Table of Contents

  • Lesson One

    Introducing Gun Policy and Research

  • Lesson Two

    Analyzing Research Evidence on Outcomes of Gun Policies (Teacher-Led Exploration and Preparation for Jigsaw Activity)

  • Lesson Three

    Analyzing Research Evidence on Outcomes of Gun Policies (Student Jigsaw Activity)

  • Lesson Four

    Exploring Expert Judgments About Gun Policy Effects

  • Lesson Five

    Searching for Common Ground on a Gun Policy Debate

  • Culminating Project

    Developing an Argument for or Against Implementing a Gun Policy

  • Appendix A

    Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies Mapped to the Unit Plan's Lessons and Culminating Project

  • Appendix B

    National Social Studies and Civics Standards Mapped to the Unit Plan's Lessons and Culminating Project

  • Appendix C

    RAND Gun Policy in America Website Resources

  • Appendix D

    Suggested Supports for Special Populations

  • Appendix E

    Printable Materials for Students

  • Appendix F

    Vocabulary Terms and Definitions

This tool was sponsored by Arnold Ventures and developed jointly by the Justice Policy Program within RAND Social and Economic Well-Being and RAND Education and Labor.

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