Emily Hefner

ENG 131.02

Professor Lucas

April 30, 2014

Gun Safety Laws

Anyone can get a gun, and anyone can shoot a gun. This is why we need stricter gun laws in America. Many people do not realize that many people who own guns should not. Our general population is in danger every day because we do not have strict enough laws on guns. I believe that guns are useful tools if they are used properly but so many people do not use them properly and people end up getting hurt. If you want to be safe you have to accept the risks and responsibilities that come with owning a gun, and especially carrying it in public.

Misuse of guns is becoming more of a prevalent problem in America. There are steps to prevent misuse we can take but not everyone will agree on them. I believe that before you are able to own a gun you should be required to complete a safety course about how to use your gun. You should also know what steps to take if a gun accidentally hurts someone. If people were required to take gun safety courses that would minimize some of the violence related to guns because people would realize how much power a gun has. Many casualties in the U.S. have happened because there are not gun laws strict enough to prevent them, “There have been more than 200 mass killings in the U.S. since 2006, more than 75% of which were shootings” (Overberg). People who should not have possession of a gun were responsible for many of these shootings. There will always be ways around the law but I believe with a safety course it may bring down the number of people misusing guns.

Currently in the U.S. it is not illegal for an insane person to own a gun because there is a law protecting the confidentiality of their medical records. It is illegal to conduct a mental background check on people who walk into stores to buy guns. To buy a gun all you have to pass if a criminal background check, which is public record to everyone. Many people supplying guns only do a criminal background check. With this information there is no record of mental stability. I believe that this is a problem because if people are going to have a weapon that can hit something from more than fifty feet away with the pull of a trigger they should have mental stability. Someone selling a gun will not know if a person has many different mental problems as long as they seem normal for the thirty minutes they are in the store purchasing it when they are fine. This is a huge problem to me, I believe that mental background checks should be required if you are going to own a gun. I also think that you should have to see a state certified counselor assess your mental stability before buying a gun. This would bring suicide, and homicide rates down tremendously because many people that buy guns do so legally. For the people that are sane when they buy the firearm then suffer mental illness later on, a mental check could be required every ten years to make sure that people are sane while owning guns. If you are going to have a firearm then you should be willing to be mentally checked so that you are not harming yourself or other people.

America could also begin to make acquiring guns more difficult. This issue clearly does not merit attention or something would have already been done about it. The U.S. could make firearms GPS traceable so that anytime one is lost, or stolen, it would be traceable. This could also help illegal gun trade because with GPS trackers in guns police would be able to monitor where they are, and if there is one somewhere there should be a gun they can confiscate it. This idea would also be beneficial if someone were hunting and got lost or hurt with nobody around. The police could track the firearm and bring them back to safety. This idea however would not work well for some people because they will feel that it is a privacy invasion. Many people have problems with being traceable and feel when they are hunting they will be off the grid. People still have thoughts that the government will trace them and use the GPS illegally to find them. This issue could be addressed but many people still would not feel comfortable with this new addition to the gun safety laws.

If people are allowed to have a gun they should have to take a safety course, “Many people can buy a gun with no prior knowledge of even how to operate a gun” (Porter). Guns are dangerous mechanisms that many people can access, especially if they have mental disabilities,

Some people that should not be able to own guns because they are mentally unstable. Some say this would be unconstitutional but it is really only trying to help millions of Americans. I actually think it can be taken up separately and easily passed. (Killough)

This article states that people with physical and mental signs of psychosis should not be able to own a gun, but currently there is no law to prevent this. Medical records are private. The particular owner of the stores that are selling their customers guns should not necessarily have access to medical records, but they could ask to speak with the primary physician, or psychiatrist to see if the people buying the guns are mentally stable to purchase a firearm. For example, if someone is extremely paranoid, they should have a harder time purchasing a gun because they could think someone is stalking them and shoot them when the person means no harm.

There is also a problem with school shootings. In 2012 alone there were seven school shootings (US Government Documents.) Many people believe that teachers should be able to carry guns in their class in case of an emergency, “I’ve never heard a gunshot in this neighborhood. I’ve never seen a gun in this neighborhood” (Overberg). This article is from a teacher and victim of the Sandy Hook School mass shooting. This particular woman believes that if her co-workers had a gun or had a method of checking the visitors for guns then they would not have had this problem. If people are mentally stable enough to own a gun, they should be able to have one to protect themselves and other people that they are responsible for.

The current issue with passing a new gun law is the second amendment, which says everyone has the right to bear arms, “One traditional view is that private gun ownership as important for resisting tyranny…”(Burrus). This upsets many people because they believe that everyone has the right to own a gun. This article is arguing that people with guns could potentially help themselves in a situation where someone else is threatening them. The government does not have a problem with people owning guns; it is the amount of people that own guns that should not. This is a national problem. Many places where mass shootings have taken place have extremely strict gun laws that prevent people from having guns in certain places, so when one person has one they are likely to be one of the only ones not abiding by the law. Stricter gun laws could have helped prevent mass shootings, “Since 1950 every public mass shooting (with the exception of one) has occurred in a place where civilians are banned from carrying firearms” (Kassory).

There are many people that agree with stricter gun control laws, and many other people that do not agree with stricter gun control laws. There only argument is with the second amendment. This law was not passed to let everyone who wants a gun have one. If people would take the time to read it, they would realize they are very misinformed. We all need to realize that people with guns that should not have them are the prevalent reason of mass shootings, school shootings, and suicides. With a few more strict laws, and knowledge about guns I believe that gun fatalities would go down tremendously. We just have to make this decision as a nation before it is too late.

Works Cited

Kassory, Ben. “11 Facts About Guns.” do something , 11 Aug. 2010. Web. 29 Apr. 2014.

Overberg, Paul. “USA TODAY Investigation: Database of mass shootings, 2006-2013.” USA Today. Gannett, 2 Dec. 2013. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.

Killough, Ashley. “Reframing the gun control debate: Is mental health the next focus?.” CNN. Cable News Network, 20 Sept. 2013. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.

“Sandy Hook victims’ families bring emotion to gun debate.” USA Today. Gannett, 6 Apr. 2013. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.

Burrus , Trevor . “The Gun Debate Is a Culture Debate.” Cato Institute. CATO Institute, 19 Mar. 2013. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.



Television: Does It Make You Smarter, or An Idiot?


Jeffrey Davis, Emily Hefner, Vivian Ortega, Tiandra Williams, and Carlos Zamora

ENG: 131 Section 02

Professor Lucas

2 April 2014


Television: Does It Make You Smarter, or An Idiot?

Character Guide

Gerald Graff: A co-author of “They Say, I Say” and a professor of English and education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He was the 2008 President of the Modern Language Association, a U.S.-based professional association of scholars and teachers of English and other languages. This essay is adapted from his 2003 book, Clueless in Academe: How Schooling Obscures the Life of the Mind.

Steven Johnson: An author of seven books, and essays including “Watching TV makes you Smarter.”He was a contributor and editor for many works including Wired. Johnson writes a monthly column for Discover, and teaches journalism at New York University. “Watching TV Makes You Smarter,” was first published in New York Times Magazine.

Antonia Peacocke: A student at Harvard University majoring in philosophy. She was born in London, and when she turned 10 she moved to New York (the same day that the fourth Harry Potter book came out). She has always loved writing and worked as a copy editor and columnist for her high school newspaper. She received the Catherine Fairfax MacRae Prize for Excellence in both English and Mathematics. She is also a National Merit Scholar.

Dana Stevens: A movie critic for Slate who has also written for well-known companies such as the New York Times, Bookforum and, the Atlantic. She received her Ph.D. from University of California at Berkeley in comparative literature and published “Thinking Outside of the Idiot Box” on Slate, as a direct response to Steven Johnson’s “Watching TV Makes You Smarter” article.

Jason Zinser: A teacher at the University of North Florida. He received a Ph. D. in philosophy in 2007 from Florida State University, and he researches both evolutionary biology and environmental philosophies. This essay first appeared in The Daily Show and Philosophy: Moments of Zen in the Art of Fake News (2007), edited by Jason Holt.

Scene : The new Family Guy movie has just came out. All of the cast members have decided to meet up and go to the movie together. They are all riding to the movie when a debate breaks out.

Dana Stevens: Johnson, You claim that television is a great tool to enhance the brain. Personally, I think your comment is baloney! “Not unlike the graphically mesmerizing plot diagram you provide of “any episode” of Starsky and Hutch as a foil for the far fancier grid representing The Sopranos. But, I don’t know that I have a lot more sympathy for the wet-blanket Puritanism of the anti-TV crowd” (296).

Steven Johnson: What most of you don’t realize is that “the usual counterargument here is that what media have lost in moral clarity, they have gained in realism. The real world doesn’t come in nicely packaged public-service announcements, and we’re better off with entertainment like The Sopranos that reflects our fallen state with all its ethical ambiguity” (279).

DS: “There couldn’t be a better time to test Steven Johnson’s theory than National TV Turnoff Week- just turn the set off till Sunday and see if you get any dumber. I’d participate in the experiment myself, but in my case, watching television is definitely a smart thing to do- I get paid for it.” (298).

SJ: If your job is to literally watch television, you would understand that turning off the set is not the only way to “evaluate whether our television shows or video games are having a positive impact. Just as important— if not more important—is the kind of thinking you have to do to make sense of a cultural experience. That is where the Sleeper Curve becomes visible” (279-80).

Gerald Graff: Real intellectuals turn any subject, however lightweight it may seem, into grist for their mill through the thoughtful questions they bring to it, whereas a dullard will find a way to drain the interest out of the richest subject” (381).

Antonia Peacocke: “’Sure these ‘screenagers’ might sit back and watch a program now and again’ Rushkoff explains, ‘but they do so voluntarily, and with full knowledge of their complicity. It is not an involuntary surrender’ In his opinion, our critical eyes and our unwillingness to be programmed by the programmers make for an entirely new relationship with the shows we watch.”(305)

DS: “Wait a minute- isn’t a fictional program’s connection to real-life political events like torture and racial profiling one of the “social relationships” we should be paying attention to? 24 is the perfect example of a TV show that challenges its audience’s cognitive faculties with intricate plotlines and rapid-fire information while actively discouraging them from thinking too much about the vigilante ethic it portrays. It’s really good at teaching you to think…about future episode of 24” (296).

Jason Zinser: We need to examine the function of television for our society, and we can examine past situations for example, “Journalists like Tom Fenton have blamed the media for failing to anticipate the pre-9/11 threat posed by terrorism. By reducing the number of foreign correspondents and cutting down on hard news stories, real foreign policy issues had been more or less remaindered to the periphery of the news. Having a population concerned and informed about relevant facts and issues helps guide the future course of the country” (365).


SJ: Shows like 24 allow the viewers to view “the media as a kind of a cognitive workout, not a series of life lessons” (279) as you claim they do. Watching television helps to exercise your brain by allowing you to critically think about possible scenarios, or if we are talking about sports, to repeat plays that you may have learned prior to watching the game.

AP: “I believe that Family Guy has its intelligent points, and some of its seemingly ‘coarse’ scenes offer have hidden merit.”(308)

JZ: What we need to realize is that, “Like most things, The Daily Show isn’t all good or all bad. The question isn’t whether Jon Stewart or the show’s producers and writers are morally corrupt people, but whether or not fake news is, on the whole, beneficial or damaging to society” (364).

GG: “I see now that I in the interminable analysis of sports, teams, movies, and toughness that my friends and I engaged in- a type of analysis, needless to say, that the real toughs would never have stopped to- I was already betraying an allegiance to the egghead world. I was practicing being an intellectual before I know that was what I wanted to be” (383).

JZ: It’s important to question the validity of the material and opinions shared on the show, because, “Cana show unburdened by objectivity” be expected to communicate news to the public accurately and responsibly? Can a program concerned with getting ratings through comedy be expected to provide objective and responsible coverage of world events? Of course ‘deception’ means ‘the intentional imparting of false information to another’ (366).

GG: “Everyone knows some young person who is impressively “street smart” but does poorly in school. What a waste, we think, that one who is so intelligent about so many things in life seems unable to apply that intelligence to academic work” (380).



Work cited

Graff, Gerald. “Hidden Intellectualism.” “They Say/ I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writings: With Readings. 2nd ed. Ed. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russel Durst. New York: Norton, 2012.382-87.Print.

Johnson, Steven. “Watching TV Makes You Smarter.” “They Say/ I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing: With Readings. 2nd ed. Ed. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russel Durst. New York: Norton, 2012. 277-94. Print.

Peacocke, Antonia. “Family Guy and Freud: Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious.” “They Say/I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writings: With Readings.2nd ed. Ed. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russel Durst. New York: Norton, 2012.299-311. Print.

Stevens, Dana. “Thinking Outside of the Idiot Box.” “They Say/ I Say”: The Moves in Academic Writings: With Readings.2nd ed. Ed. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russel Durst. New York: Norton, 2012.295-98.Print.

Zinser, Jason. “The Good, the Bad, and the Daily Show.” “They Say/I Say”: The Moves in Academic Writings: With Readings. 2nd ed. Ed. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russel Durst. New York: Norton, 2012. 363-78. Print.




Why Texting is Helpful



For the first paper of the semester we wrote an annotated bibliography. The subject I chose was why texting is helpful for teenagers. I thought that this was an interesting topic because it is something that is filled with society today. Almost everyone participates and communicates with texting, and many more people use abbreviations.

The bibliography includes a passage from the text that we are reading from this semester They Say, I Say” with Readings, and two other articles, one featured in NewsMax about how texting is good for children because it improves their reading skills, and the other source featured in U.S. News and World Report about the benefits of trying to include texting in the classroom and how teachers are trying to include texting more.

The debate of texting being good or bad interests me. It is something that is so widely used in today’s society but there are still some negative benefits of texting. Many researchers are trying to show people that texting and abbreviations are not ruining the English language.

Annotated Bibliography

Crystal, David. “2b or Not 2b?“They Say, I Say” with Readings. Ed. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russel Durst. New York: Norton 2009. 335-346. Print.

David Crystal’s “2b or Not 2b?” talks about the negative and positive effects of modern-day texting. Crystal even says, “Children could not be good at texting if they had not already developed considerable literacy awareness” (345). He believes that there is no harm in texting, and that the English language is not declining, it is just taking a new form with texting. He thinks that many people are worried about spelling because abbreviations are used too often, but Crystal brings up the point that even earlier generations had abbreviations for things in writing such as “Swalk” “sealed with a loving kiss” (339). Crystal also talks about Coventry University’s study on texting. They found that the more abbreviations in the messages young students used, the higher the scores on reading and vocabulary tests. He argues that texting is not bad for teenagers, that it actually helps them improve their writing skills.

David Crystal is a professor at the University of Wales and is known for his work in English language studies and linguistics. He has published more than one hundred books, including The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, A Little Book of Language (2010), and Begat: The King James Bible and the English Language (2010). This essay first appeared in the Guardian on July 5, 2008, and then in his book Txtng: The Gr8 Db8 (2008).

Hoffmann, Bill. “Gr8 News! Texting is Good for Kids.” NewsMax. NewsMax Media, Inc., 30 Nov 2012. Web. 18 Feb 2014.

In a short article by Bill Hoffmann “ Gr8 News! Texting is Good for Kids” he talks about studies that have found the texting can actually improve reading skills of teenagers. This particular article cites a study conducted by the British Department of Education and reported in The Daily Telegraph, that concluded cell phone usage requires “a certain degree of phonological awareness.” It also includes all forms of social media as informal blogs for teenagers. They are on the social sites with their friends talking about daily problems and routines. It states that the students who use social media are significantly better writers than those who don’t. The article also addresses the notion of texting “dumbing us down.” A study by Coventry University found no evidence that young texters are any less proficient in language development than young people who do not text.

Bill Hoffman has served as a reporter, editor, foreign correspondent, film critic, and gossip columnist at The New York Post. He is also a journalist for BBC Radio.

Miners, Zach. “Could Texting Be Good for Students.” U.S. News. U.S. News & World Report, 29 Oct 2009. Web. 18 Feb 2014

In Zach Miners’ “Could Texting Be Good for Students” gives brief facts about how the English language is not being degraded by text messaging; it actually functions as a type of learning tool that stretches teen’s language skills. Teenagers send approximately 2,900 text messages a month. Many teachers are finding new creative ways to tie texting into their every day curriculum. The research concludes that texting can decrease performance in formal essays, but research also states that texting can help in the writing of informal essays. Many teachers believe texting has educational benefits. With texting becoming as popular as it is many teachers agree that, “Texting has become an established part of teenagers lives. It can be used as a real tool as opposed to a hindrance.”

Zach Miners is an educational writer for U.S. News and World Report. He has written many articles about America’s education system including “Twitter goes to College”, ”Surviving Art School-And Economic Stress,” and many more.