Gun control in the US

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Présentez la notion « Lieux et formes de pouvoir » à partir du travail fait en classe pendant l’année.

Les clés du sujet

La problématique choisie

Dans le corrigé, nous aborderons la notion « Lieux et formes de pouvoir » à travers la problématique du contrôle des armes aux États-Unis. Il s’agira d’étudier si les armes sont un problème ou une solution dans ce pays, en prenant en compte le contexte historique.

Les idées principales

Le fait de posséder une arme, légal aux États-Unis, est une forme de pouvoir, d’autant plus que les lobbies pro-armes font pression pour que le gouvernement américain ne modifie pas la législation en vigueur, au nom de la liberté individuelle et du droit à l’auto-défense. Ceux qui veulent infléchir la loi rétorquent qu’il n’y aurait pas à se défendre si le port d’arme était régulé.

Les documents évoqués

À chacun des documents est associé un mini-lien pour faciliter sa recherche.

Le 2e amendement de la Constitution américaine :

Le film documentaire de Michael Moore, Bowling for Columbine (2002) :

Un article du Time, “The Case for Gun Control” par Fareed Zakaria (août 2012) :




[Présentation de la thématique choisie] Guns have played a major role through­out American history, from the war of Independence to the Civil War. Today, many mass shootings occur in the country and about 15,000 people die every year in the US because of gun violence.

[Lien avec la notion] Therefore, we may say that guns constitute a form of power, because their use reveals a form of conflict or tension within American society. Yet, if some Americans defend gun carrying, others demand more control, especially after a mass massacre.

[Problématique] We may wonder if guns in the US are a problem, or a solution (to protect oneself for instance).


a case for : une question, un problème

[Plan] First, I will give some arguments in favour of gun carrying. I will then show how this basic right granted by the American constitution is perverted, and I will conclude by giving some arguments which are a case for gun control.

1. Pro-gun arguments

The main argument used by the pro-gun lobbies is historical. Gun carrying is deeply rooted in the American constitution: the Second Amendment guar­antees the right to bear arms. Voted just after the War of Independence, it was originally supposed to allow people to form militias if a ruler threatened the people’s liberty.

According to the NRA (National Rifle Association), guns are not a problem: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” In addition, people need to be able to defend themselves when the police are inefficient.

2. The perversion of the Second Amendment

Guns’ main use is no longer private militias but self-defense, which was not the original purpose of the Second Amendment.

The US is famous for the numerous shootings that take place there, particularly in schools: Columbine High School in 1999, Virginia Tech in 2007, Parkland (Florida) in 2018… Michael Moore’s documentary Bowling for Columbine investigates about the causes of these massacres. Of course the right to carry a gun is mentioned, but the main factor according to him is the culture of fear in the country.

3. The case for gun control

Guns are more and more sophisticated: Semi-automatic guns belong in the hands of soldiers. And yet it is still very easy to buy a gun in the US.


background checks : vérifications d’identité

To prevent more massacres from occurring, some people try to set up background checks. Obama tried during his presidency but he failed, the pro-gun lobby, particularly the NRA, being extremely powerful.


It is difficult to imagine what things will be like in the future: The current trend is for Americans to have more and more guns, and the number of people killed in mass shootings is ever increasing.

Maybe part of the explanation lies in the culture of fear developed in the US. People become paranoid and are ready to use their guns as soon as something goes wrong… In France, guns are controlled and there are not so many people shot dead, obviously.


Voici les questions que l’examinateur pourrait poser lors de l’entretien.

During your presentation, you mentioned “background checks”. Can you explain what it consists in

Some people in the US want to check the antecedents of the people who want to buy a weapon, but it’s really difficult to make a law for all the states, given that the laws regarding gun-carrying depend on each state, not the federal government. It’s what Barack Obama wanted, but after Donald Trump’s election, nothing has changed.

You mentioned the documentary by Michael Moore, Bowling for Columbine. What shocked you most in this film


ammunition : les munitions

a rifle : un fusil

A lot of things, actually. At the beginning, you can see Michael Moore at the hairdresser’s, and that’s where he buys his ammunition. It looks really shocking. Then he goes to the bank, to open a bank account. To thank him for opening this account, the bank gives him… a rifle! It is totally absurd. But I was also shocked when I saw the videos of the shooting in Columbine High School. You could see the two killers shooting at people. You know that they couldn’t do anything to prevent that from happen­ing. It’s really shocking.

Do you think American society can evolve on this subject

No, I don’t, because Obama tried and nothing changed. I think, before chang­ing American society, Americans themselves have to change. All these massacres should wake people’s conscience, and maybe they do, but as long as there is a majority of Representatives in Congress who are in favour of guns, I’m afraid nothing will change.



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