Common Sense Caucus

If you’re looking for ways to continue the discussion of last week’s school shooting, DACA, or other hot topics, take a look at this week’s current event. We hope it can help.

Brought to teachers by Susie Marcus, CLP consultant, with CLP staff.


News Sources

“ ‘We will be the last mass shooting’: Florida students want to be tipping point in gun debate”, by Susan Miller, USA Today, February 17, 2018
“The student survivors of Wednesday’s massacre — many not even old enough to vote — have been saturating the airwaves and social media with a resounding message: Something is broken in a country that can’t stem bloodshed wrought by guns.”

Why is America unable to halt this epidemic of deadly gun violence?, by Andrew Buncombe, Independent, February 17, 2018
“Gun control campaigners say it is bewildering that after so many incidents of gun violence, politicians remain seemingly unwilling to act to control guns, especially when the American public supports regulation.”

Florida high school superintendent shares calls for ‘commonsense gun laws’, by Josh Delk, The Hill, February 15, 2018
“’Our children are writing to us. They’re telling us, school board members, community, elected officials, now is the time for us to enact some commonsense gun laws in this country,’ he said to applause from those gathered.”

Frustration Grows as Congress Shows Inability to Pass Even Modest Gun Measures, by Nicholas Fandos and Thomas Kaplan, The New York Times, February 15, 2018
“’My message to lawmakers in Congress is please, take action,’ David Hogg, a student at the school, said as he looked directly into CNN’s camera on Thursday.”

Networks focus on social-media images of Florida shooting, by Michael Calderone, Politico, February 15, 2018
“But as the nation came to grips with the loss of 17 students and adults at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, the TV images contained an unusual amount of video and audio from the scene, suggesting that this shooting, at least, would leave a more indelible impression.”

Can a Moderate Immigration Bill Squeeze Through the Senate?, by Jim Newell, Slate, February 14, 2018
“A bipartisan group of moderate senators calling itself the “Common Sense Caucus” has finalized a piece of immigration legislation. It will be brought up during the grand, historic, freewheeling Senate immigration debate, during which zero pieces of legislation had received votes as of early Wednesday evening.”

Time for Commonsense Immigration Reform, by Thomas J. Donohue, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, February 5, 2018
“The good news is that real and substantive conversations to address these challenges are taking place—many on a bipartisan basis. Multiple proposals are being discussed on Capitol Hill, and the White House has unveiled a plan that includes a path to citizenship for the Dreamers, increased border security, and other provisions.”

Common-Sense Immigration Reform that Keeps Families Together, The White House, January 31, 2018
“Now is the time to enact common-sense reforms to base immigration on individual merit and skill and to emphasize close familial relationships.”

Can The Common Sense Caucus Influence Leading Lawmakers?, by Kelsey Snell, NPR, January 25, 2018
“A bipartisan group of senators have dubbed themselves the “Common Sense Caucus” and are taking credit for ending the brief government shutdown. But in a polarized Capitol, how much influence will these centrist lawmakers have on their leaders?”

The bipartisan group behind Sen. Susan Collins’s “talking stick,” explained, by Ella Nilsen, Vox, January 23, 2018
“By the end of the weekend, the so-called “Common Sense Coalition” had grown to around 30 senators, moderates from both parties who became the group driving internal negotiations to reopen the government. They are now credited with helping bring an end to the shutdown — with Collins appearing on CNN on Tuesday morning, proudly showing off the beaded “talking stick” she said helped facilitate discussions.”

Common-sense gun laws, not more guns, would make us safer, by Tony Magliano, National Catholic Reporter, October 30, 2017
“Present federal law only requires licensed gun dealers to initiate background checks. And since gun sales often take place between unlicensed persons, approximately 40 percent of all firearms transferred in the U.S. are done without a background check. Congress needs to close this dangerous, giant loophole.”


Questions to Consider

  • What does common sense mean?
  • What is common sense in government?
  • What did Thomas Paine mean by common sense?
  • Is common sense the will to act?
  • Which is more important: common or sense?
  • What is common sense about gun legislation?
  • What is common sense about citizenship?
  • How do we bridge the gap between different views of “common sense”?
  • Is there a common sense about dealing with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals?
  • Is there common sense about regulating the purchase of guns?
  • How might social media influence attitudes about gun legislation?
  • What are the common sense steps to address crucial issues in our country?
  • What questions should we be asking about gun sales and about immigration?
  • What questions should we be asking about Congress’ inability to legislate on gun sales and immigration?
  • Who can be a voice for safer schools? Students? Parents? Teachers? Elected representatives?
  • Are campaign contributions supportive of common sense politics?


Background and More

Common Sense,
“Published in 1776, Common Sense challenged the authority of the British government and the royal monarchy. The plain language that Paine used spoke to the common people of America and was the first work to openly ask for independence from Great Britain.”

Common Sense, Wikipedia
“Common sense is sound practical judgment concerning everyday matters, or a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge that is shared by (“common to”) nearly all people.”


Lesson Plans

The Influence of “Common Sense” on the Revolutionary War, Discovery Education
CLP: grades 6-8

On the Edge and Under the Gun, Thirteen Ed Online
CLP: grades 6-8


Constitutional and Legal Connections

Second Amendment, Legal Information Institute
“The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.””

Americans deserve to lose their 2nd Amendment right to bear arms, Los Angeles Times, February 14, 2018
“To the editor: Enough. That’s it. Time to say clearly that a civilized society does not need to have its citizens massacred by a 227-year-old edict.”
CLP: Opinion

Fourteenth Amendment and Citizenship, Library of Congress, July 31, 2015
“A recurring question in American constitutional law has been who is a citizen of the United States.”

Citizenship, Immigration, and the Constitution, Constitutional Accountability Center
“The 14th Amendment’s Citizenship Clause is one of the Constitution’s most important and underappreciated provisions. The clause grants full United States citizenship to anyone born on American soil (with a narrow exception for children of foreign diplomats) or naturalized by the federal government.”


Oregon & the Northwest

Gun Violence and Background Checks in Oregon, Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund
“Support for the Second Amendment goes hand-in-hand with keeping guns away from criminals and other dangerous people. But prior to the passage of SB 41, loopholes in the law made it easy for dangerous people in Oregon to get guns, resulting in needless violence—from deadly domestic abuse to suicide and school shootings. Research shows that common-sense public safety laws reduce gun violence and save lives.”
CLP: Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund is an independent, non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to understanding and reducing gun violence in America.

On the Fence: Senate Bill 719: Additional Tool, by David Still, The Observer, February 9, 2018
“This is “common sense” legislation that is intended to protect individual and public safety.”
CLP: Opinion


Oregon State Social Science Standards

8.8 Evaluate information from a variety of sources and perspectives.
8.26 Examine a controversial event, issue, or problem from more than one perspective.
8.27 Examine the various characteristics, causes, and effects of an event, issue, or problem.
8.28 Investigate a response or solution to an issue or problem and support or oppose, using research.
HS.1 Evaluate continuity and change over the course of world and United States history.
HS.2 Analyze the complexity and investigate causes and effects of significant events in world, U.S., and Oregon history.
HS.9 Identify historical and current events, issues, and problems when national interests and global interest have been in conflict, and analyze the values and arguments on both sides of the conflict.
HS.27 Examine functions an process of United Sates government.
HS.33 Explain the role of government in various current events.
HS.57 Define, research, and explain an event, issue, problem or phenomenon and its significance to society.
HS.58 Gather, analyze, use and document information from various sources, distinguishing facts, opinions, inferences, biases, stereotypes, and persuasive appeals.
HS.59 Demonstrate the skills and dispositions needed to be a critical consumer of information.
HS.60. Analyze an event, issue, problem, or phenomenon from varied or opposing perspectives or points of view.
HS.61 Analyze an event, issue, problem, or phenomenon, identifying characteristics, influences, causes, and both short- and long-term effects.
HS.63. Engage in informed and respectful deliberation and discussion of issues, events, and ideas.


We the People Lesson Connections

Middle School, Level 2

  • Unit 6, Lesson 28: What is the relationship of the United States to other nations in the world?

High School, Level 3

  • Unit 4, Lesson 21: What Is the Role of Congress in American Constitutional Democracy?
  • Unit 4, Lesson 23: What is the role of the President in the American constitutional system?
  • Unit 6, Lesson 37: What key challenges does the United States face in the future?

CLP Current Event: Common Sense Caucus