The issue of gun ownership is often controversial in many countries. For instance, in the Unites States, the proponents of civilian gun ownership argue that carrying a gun would ensure the security of citizens and ultimately contribute to the reduction of the crime levels in the society. The opponents of gun ownership, on the other hand, argue on the contrary; it leads to increased crime rates. In most countries, laws exist that regulate civilian gun ownership. In England, for instance, the decline of crime rates is attributed to stringent gun control policies.
The same gun control policies adopted in countries such as England can also be implemented in the U.S. to reduce the rate of crime. Currently, in the United States, the citizens with a criminal record can have access to guns. Consequently, the presence of guns on civilian hands with criminal intent leads to increased levels of crime in the country. The country should develop an effective gun control policy that can guarantee the security of the public. In my opinion, the iron triangle model is the best model as it allows many participants to engage in the formulation and implementation of the gun control policy.
The issue of gun ownership is often a contentious one in many countries. While some feel that civilian gun ownership would help reduce the crime rates, others hold the opinion that allowing civilian gun ownership would lead to a rise in crime levels in a country. Several policy models have been adopted in many countries to control guns. In public policy process, especially with regard to criminal justice and crime issues, several steps are involved. In other words, before the issues related to crime can become a policy, they have to undergo some steps. These steps include identification of the problem, which in this case is gun control, identifying the priority areas, formulation of policy, implementation of the policy, and continued monitoring and evaluation of the policy.
In enacting the gun control policy, two options are available to the government; reinforcing the existing policies or undertaking a complete overhaul of the existing policies and replacing them with new ones. The process of gun control policy formulation should be an inclusive process involving various participants including the legislature, the executive and input from the citizenry of the country (Wilson, 2007, p. 122). In formulating a gun control policy in the United States, government should identify the best suited policy model to facilitate the passage of the bill into law. The right policy model for gun control in the United States is the iron triangle model.
The Public Policy Models
In organizations, both private and public, various policy models are employed in enacting new policies. The policy models provide frameworks and strategies on how the various participants should interact to develop suitable policies to address a given problem. However, many of the policy models available for government policy formulation have shortcomings. The first model for public policy formulation is the issue network model, which makes the assumption that as issues emerge, they attract attention that ultimately results to the enacting of appropriate policies regarding the issue (Cole, Gertz, & Bunger, 2003, p.73).
Issue networks involve an association of many interest groups or persons with a major aim of influencing government policy regarding a given issue. According to the issue network model, issue networks unite to push for a policy change within the government (Cole, Gertz, & Bunger, 2003, p. 98). In the U.S., the issue networks include politicians, policy consultants, presidential aides, policy researchers among others. The issue network policy model may not be the appropriate model for gun control policy as the different issue networks; that is, the proponents or opponents of gun ownership may derail the enacting of the bill into law. Additionally, the issue networks may oppose the gun control policy pushed by the government agency.
Another public policy model is the garbage can model. Under this model, the participants of public policy formulation hold equal influence or power in developing the policy (Marion, & Oliver, 2006, p. 212). However, this may not be true as different participants often play various roles in public policy making process. Additionally, this policy model does not outline the essential steps in policy development. It instead expresses the idea that policy development is such a random process. According this model, various policy factors converge to influence policy outcomes. However, gun control policy requires an orderly policy making process, not a random and unpredictable process.
On the issue of gun control, the appropriate policy model that the United States government can use is the iron triangle model. Under this policy, various participants contribute to the policy making processes (Marion, & Oliver, 2006, p. 287). However, unlike the issue network model, the participants do not carry the same influence on policy formulation. Further, this policy model recognizes three players in the policy-making process; the legislature and the executive arms of government, the media and the public. Since the issue of gun ownership rights is often controversial in the United States, this model provides the best approach towards enacting an acceptable policy on the same.
The Iron Triangle Policy Model
In this model, different participants i.e. the media, the government and legislature, the public and various interest or lobbyist groups, play a decisive role in the policy-making process. In the United States, the executive arm of the government consists of the president, the governors and mayors. The three participants, being the main players in the government, play a vital role in formulating policies regarding the criminal justice system. Controversial issues such as gun ownership rights in the U.S. are given a priority by the three participants. Additionally, they can influence the public opinion or the legislature to ensure the enactment of gun ownership policies. In the United States, these three participants also hold the power to reject a bill passed by the legislature that goes against their views (Wilson, 2007, p. 112).
The legislative arm of government also contributes significantly to the formulation and subsequent enactment of crime policies. According to Marion and Oliver, the legislature enacts many laws enforced by the United States’ criminal justice system. The legislature in the U.S. comprises of the congress both at the federal and county level and the State general assemblies. The role of the legislature in the policy-making process involves the formulation and implementation of policies.
Other than the legislature and the executive arms of government are the judiciary and government bureaucracies. In the U.S., the Supreme Court holds the ultimate power to rule on constitutional matters. Other courts such as district courts can issue rulings on controversial issues. Different agencies at the county, state and federal level constitute the government bureaucracies such as the homeland security, the correction department and the criminal service division (Wilson, 2007, p. 131). They implement the policies related to criminal justice that have been passed by the legislative arm of the government. The government bureaucracies may not play a significant role in the policy formulation process but are indispensable in its implementation process (Marion, & Oliver, 2006, p. 143). They are responsible for designing the implementation process and evaluation of the policies, and thus the bureaucracies should be part of the implementation team of the gun control policy.
The media play a significant role in influencing the public opinion and raising awareness regarding a particular issue (s) within the society. With regard to gun control policy, the media can help in collecting relevant information from the public and informing the policy makers. This would result to the formulation of effective gun control policies. According to Marion and Oliver, the media should be truthful in its reporting to ensure effective implementation of public policies (2006, p. 186). The public opinion also holds a powerful influence upon policy formulation and implementation. In essence, democratic governments enact policies that reflect the majority opinion within the country. Normally, the public opinion is determined through opinion polls. Different advocacy groups conduct campaigns to educate the public as well as influence public opinion.
The three main participants i.e. the government, the media and the public opinion and the various interest groups appreciably influence policy making in the United States. Thus, under the iron triangle policy model, all participants are involved in the policy-making process. In my opinion, the president should use this model because it is all-inclusive and thus will allow the gun control bill to be passed easily. Additionally, being an inclusive process, the model will ensure the enactment of an appropriate gun control policy.
The Strategy the President should Follow
For the president to gather enough support for his policy choices especially from congress and the congressional committee, the president should follow the following steps. The first step should be problem identification, which in this context is the issue of gun control. In this step, the president should seek to establish the relationship between gun ownership and the rise or decline of crime in the U.S. The second step involves setting of the agenda, whereby priority issues are identified. Additionally, in agenda setting, the president should identify pertinent issues that warrant action and the resource requirement for those issues.
After agenda setting, the next step is policy formulation, which involves structuring of an appropriate policy. The president should ensure that the policy is formulated well to avoid potential improper use of guns by the public. The policy formulation should involve a need assessment, whereby the significance of the gun control policy is evaluated (Cole, Gertz, & Bunger, 2003, p. 118). After the need assessment, the measurable objectives of implementing the gun control policy should be stated. In addition, the president should identify the targets, which would be used to evaluate the policy. In this case, an appropriate target would be to implement a gun control policy in order to minimize the crime rates in the United States. After setting the targets, the president should develop the strategies as to how he will control gun ownership in the country.
Policy Implementation and Evaluation
After policy formulation, the government should undertake to implement the gun control policy, whereby the contribution of the various participants is necessary. In particular, the bureaucracies including the various government agencies such as the criminal justice division will play a vital role in the implementation of the gun control policy. In addition, the duration for the implementation of the gun control policy should be small to allow for the evaluation of its effectiveness.
After implementation of the policy, the last step should be the evaluation of the policy. Normally, the agencies involved in the implementation process regularly evaluate the policy to determine its effectiveness. The evaluation usually involves data collection and analysis to support or criticize the policy. If the crime rates fail to decline after the implementation of the gun control policy, then the policy has not been effective. However, if the crime rates reduce, then the policy has been effective in achieving its intended targets.
In the United States, the issue of gun ownership is often controversial because of its potential effects on security in the country. Consequently, the United States government, just like other governments such as the British government, should adopt a gun control policy to regulate gun ownership in the country. The president should employ the iron triangle policy model in formulating this policy. This policy model is the best compared to the other models because it is all-inclusive, which ensures the formulation of an effective policy. The gun control policy should involve the various steps and participants to ensure its effectiveness.
Cole, G., Gertz, M., & Bunger, A. (2003). The Criminal Justice System: Politics and Policies. New York: Wadsworth Publishing.
Marion, N., & Oliver, M. (2006).The Public Policy of Crime and Criminal Justice. New York: Prentice Hall.
Wilson, H. (2007).Guns, gun control, and elections: the politics and policy of Firearms. London: Rowman & Littlefield.