Gun Violence in the U.S.


Reading Exercise in English for Intermediate and Upper-Intermediate Levels: read the following text, learn new vocabulary and answer the questions below:

Every year, there are more than ten thousand gun-related deaths in the United States. Among developed countries, it is by far the country with the highest average of homicides due to firearms. Massacres and shootings keep happening there on a regular basis. No one has forgotten the twenty children who were killed by Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

Yet, despite these tragedies, nothing is being done to change the gun laws in America. Why? Mainly for two reasons: 1) the gun industry and gun associations such as the NRA are very powerful, and 2) guns are an important part of the country’s identity. Indeed, in the eighteenth century, when the U.S. nation was created, Americans lived in a wild land full of enemies and dangers. Weapons such as guns were essential for protection and survival. This is why the right to keep and bear firearms became part of the U.S. Constitution.

The problem is that, today, the idea that Americans need guns to protect themselves is ridiculous. This is the 21st century and the U.S. is supposed to be a civilized country which understands that the proliferation of guns causes more crime and insecurity, not less. This statistical truth has been proven over and over in other developed countries where strict gun laws are in place.

Thus, to solve the problem of gun violence in America, there can be only one solution: less guns. Three hundred ten million firearms are currently in circulation in the U.S. That number must go down as soon as possible, but how? The two most urgent measures are 1) to ban assault weapons with high-capacity magazines, and 2) to introduce universal background checks in order to make sure that criminals and mentally insane people are not able to purchase guns anymore.

KEY VOCABULARY TO UNDERSTAND THE READING EXERCISE:

Firearms: guns.

NRA: National Rifle Association.

Rifle: type of gun.

Constitution: the fundamental principles of a nation.

To ban: to make illegal.

Assault weapons: semi-automatic firearms with high-capacity magazines.

Magazine: a detachable receptacle on a gun containing the bullets.

Universal background checks: verifying criminal and mental health records before selling guns to a person.

Insane: crazy.

QUESTIONS:

1. What was one of the last big shooting tragedy in American history?

2. How can Americans make sure that criminals and crazy people don’t get access to guns?

3. Why did the right to keep and bear guns become part of the U.S. Constitution?

4. How many Americans die from firearms every year?

5. What do Americans need to understand in the 21st century if they are to be seen as a civilized country?

6. Why are gun laws not changed in America?

7. What is the solution to gun violence in America?

8. What is the name of the strongest gun-rights association in America?

9. What are the two first steps that should be taken to make gun violence in America decrease?

ANSWERS:

1. Sandy Hook Elementary School.

2. By introducing universal background checks.

3. Because at that time, guns were essential for the protection and survival of Americans.

4. More than 10’000.

5. That more guns increase crime and insecurity.

6. Because the gun industry and gun associations are too powerful, and because guns are an important part of the U.S. identity.

7. To lower the amount of guns in the country.

8. The National Rifle Association.

9. Ban assault weapons and introduce universal background checks.

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