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Composition Essay Contest

The English department at Western Kentucky University is pleased to announce our second annual Composition Essay Contest. Students should visit the links on the right to complete an application and submit a 500-750-word essay (MLA style; pdf format) based on the prompt below. The English department will invite finalists, their teachers, and family to campus for a reception and ceremony on February 15th where they will be recognized.

The winners will receive scholarships if they choose to major or minor in English at WKU and cash prizes whether or not they attend WKU. First Place: $500 Scholarship and $200 cash; Second Place: $300 Scholarship and $100 cash; Third Place: $200 Scholarship and $50 cash. Essays are due January 17th.

Prompt: After recent deadly mass shootings from Parkland, Florida, to El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, discussions have focused on mental health problems as a significant cause of mass shootings. "Red flag laws" that attempt to take guns from individuals who show signs of possible violence and mental instability have become increasingly popular measures to address the issue, with 17 states now having some version of this type of law.

Carefully read the six sources found in the contest flyer, including the introductory information for each source. Then synthesize material from at least three of the sources and incorporate it into a coherent, well-developed essay that defends, challenges, or qualifies the notion that red flag laws can be a beneficial measure to prevent more mass shootings.

Your argument should be the focus of your essay. Use the sources included in the essay contest flyer to develop your argument and explain the reasoning for it. Avoid merely summarizing the sources. Indicate clearly which sources you are drawing from whether through direct quotation, paraphrase, or summary. You may cite the sources by using the descriptions in parentheses below.

Source A (Beck)

Source B (Evans)

Source C (Gramlich)

Source D (Massie)

Source E (Walsh)

Source F (Williams)




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 Last Modified 9/11/19