Advance Review of Criminal Justice Gun Use Policies

ADVANCE REVIEW OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE 15

Thousands of individuals die every year in the United States due togunshot wounds. Apart from deaths, the country has a high rate of gunrelated violence. Research demonstrates that each year, close to640,000 brutal crimes, involving 16,000 murders are perpetratedthrough the use of guns (Constitutional Rights Foundation,2012). In addition, it is approximated that 337, 960 non fatal andaggressive offences are carried out using guns, while 73, 505individuals are treated in emergency units in hospitals due to noncritical gunshot injuries (Webster, Vernick, Vittes, McGinty, Teret &ampFrattaroli, 2012).

The statistics indicate that gun violence in America is abnormallyhigh. When compared to other developed nations, the country ranks thehighest with gun related offences. The homicide rate in America isseven times greater compared to the same crime rate in 22 combineddeveloped nations (Webster et al., 2012). This is due to the factthat most homicides in the U.S. are committed using firearms. Thereason for such high gun related crime rates is because America hasless stringent gun laws, which make it easier for most civilians tobuy and own guns.

This paper proposes a policy to ban firearm use. The policy arguesthat civilians should not be allowed to own and use firearms.Ownership should be restricted to selected law enforcers, who have nopsychological disorders.

Literature Review

The problem of gun control has affected the United States over theyears (Masters, 2016). In the past, many crimes have been perpetratedby use of civilian firearms. However, the severity of these crimeshas been intensifying with every passing year. In specific, there hasbeen a rise in offences involving mass murders by gunmen, who committhe crimes in civilian settings, such as learning institutions andother public places (Gerney,Parsons &amp Posner, 2013).

It is alarming that most of the perpetrators of mass shootings useguns that are legally owned (Dent, 2016). The problem is caused bythe fact that Americans are easily licensed to buy and carry guns. Asa result, more individuals are able to own guns. Research shows thatthe approximated rate of personal firearm ownership in the country is101.05 guns for every 100 individuals (Krouse, 2012). The current gunlaws make it even easier for radicalized persons to access and usefirearms, and in the process they are able to commit terror attackson unsuspecting citizens (Dube,Dube &amp García-Ponce, 2013).

A number of interventions have been implemented aimed at changingthe problem. Over the years, most interventions have focused onrevising gun laws (Bloomberg,2013). The federal administration has passed five maincountrywide gun laws. As early as 1934, the possession of silencers,machine guns as well as sawed-off shot guns was forbidden (Spitzer,2015). The 1968 Gun Control Act restricted the sale ofaffordable handguns, widely recognized as “Saturday Night Specials”(Constitutional Rights Foundation, 2012). In 1993, the BradyAct was enacted, which required individuals who purchase a handgun towait for five days prior to getting the gun. In 1994, a crime billwas implemented, which prohibited the making or importing of specificmilitary weapons. However, the bill became invalid following itsexpiry in 2004 (Constitutional Rights Foundation, 2012).

More recently, the 2012 Newton murder of 20 school going childrenresulted in a countrywide debate about gun laws. The Obamaadministration endeavored to pass a law aimed at reducing ownershipof military-style guns (Masters, 2016). The most promisinginterventions are those that focus on restricting gun laws. Theseinclude the creation of a database, which will restrict individualswith a criminal record from becoming authorized to own guns. Thepreferred intervention approach involves revising gun laws with theobjective of controlling how and where gun owners use their weapons.

However, the justice system has contributed to the creation of theproblem. Courts offer different ruling regarding gun laws in America,by using the Second Amendment in the U.S. Constitution to make theirrulings. The Second Amendment states that “a well-regulatedMilitia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the rightof the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”(Masters, 2012). Supreme Court rulings have used the amendment touphold that states have a right to control firearms. However, thesame court has used the amendment to confirm that civilians have aright to own and use firearms. An illustration was the 2008 courtruling that struck down laws in Washington DC, which prohibitedhandguns. The problem of gun laws is further complicated by the factthat every state has unique gun laws, some of which are strict whileothers are lenient.

Americans have differing opinions when it comes to the issue of gunlaws (Fleegler et al., 2013).In a Gallup Poll conducted in 2011, 44% of civilians supported theneed for more stringent gun laws, while 43% favored maintaining thecurrent gun laws. Surprisingly, 11% of respondents supported thepassing of less strict gun laws (Constitutional Rights Foundation,2012). In another survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in2015, 52% of Americans favor the protection of their rights topossess guns compared to 46% who favor gun control laws (Doherty,2015). The statistics clearly indicate that while some civilians deemit important to revise gun laws, others think that gun laws shouldnot be revised.

Revising gun laws is likely to face stiff opposition from gunownership advocates. The Constitutional Rights Foundation(2012) explains that major opposition derives from the fact thatmillions of Americans acknowledge gun ownership to be their right, inaddition to arguing that guns are important in society. Masters(2016) further notes, Americans view gun ownership as a birthrightand a very significant part of the country’s heritage. Theseadvocates believe that gun ownership is not a problem and thatrevising gun laws would result in unfair restrictions on law-abidingindividuals who own guns.

The resistance is headed by “the National Rifle Association (NRA)and the gun industry” (Constitutional Rights Foundation,2012). NRA represents the views of close to four million gun fanaticsand hunters. The gun industry comprises of the individuals who makeand sell guns, and in the process they make a lot of money yearlyfrom gun trade. In addition, there are Americans who believe thatmore stringent gun laws will have no effect in reducing crimes, suchas mass shootings. The latter group argues that instead of new gunlaws, the government should use a different approach that involvesendeavoring to understand why individuals choose to engage inunlawful behaviors (Newport, 2015). The opposition group forms astrong team that is capable of opposing any legislation to havestrict gun laws.

On the other hand, there are Americans who believe that the problemcan be solved by revising gun laws to make them stern. Strict gunlaws will be effective in controlling the use of firearms (Webster etal., 2012). For instance, the increase in mass shootings can beattributed to the fact that individuals are allowed to carry guns inpublic places. A law that restricts such a policy would be effectivein ensuring that mass shooters do not gain access to public placeswhile carrying firearms. Although there are laws in place aimed atrestricting individuals such as criminals, the underage or those whoare mentally unstable from buying and owning firearms, the laws havenot been effective in reducing overall crimes perpetrated usingfirearms (Webster et al., 2012). This is because firearm crimes arenot only committed by individuals who unlawfully own guns, but also,by people who have legal ownership.

Goals and Objectives

The goals of these proposed policy change are revising current gunlaws in the United States and banning and restricting gun ownership.Currently, all law abiding Americans with no criminal record areeligible to buy and use firearms (Anestiset al., 2015). This makes it easy for civilians to own guns.However, an analysis of the crimes committed using firearms indicatesthat most of the offenders are the legal owners of the weapons. Thisraises alarm that crime is not just a reserve of individuals who areformer or habitual offenders. Since, even civilians with no criminalrecords have the potential to engage in first time wrongdoing, andprovided that it is easy for Americans to own weapons, the easier itwill be for them to commit crimes.

The expected outcome objective of revising current gun laws is thatvery few Americans will be able to buy and own guns. The new policywill target all Americans, those who own or intend to own firearms.It is anticipated that the policy will make it impossible for anyoneto gain access to firearms. In addition, within a period of one year,many firearm licenses will become invalid. The second goal, banningand restricting gun ownership, also targets all civilians with theexception of law enforcers who pass the psychological disorders test.It is intended that the number of crimes perpetrated by civiliansusing guns will decline, which can be measured through a decline inthe statistics of gun-related crimes within a year after implementingthe policy.

In order for the new policy to be implemented, it will requirecooperation and participation from government, media and lawenforcement agencies. The first step involves garnering enoughsupport from government officials to ensure that they revise currentgun laws and hence ban and restrict gun ownership. The media willplay a crucial role in informing Americans about the policy. Afterthe new policy becomes law, law enforcement agencies from all statesand departments should work together to ensure that gun ownershiplicenses issued to civilians are revoked, and use records of gunownership to repossess all firearms owned by the public.

Proposed New Policy

The policy targets all Americans who by law are allowed to legallypurchase, use and own firearms. States have different laws regardingthe legal age at which civilians can buy guns. The policy targets achange to the policies in all states, to ensure that the entirecountry has a single gun law, meaning that the proposed policy willapply across all states. In order for the policy to be carried out,the responsible authority will be law enforcers.

Since the policy suggests the banning of gun ownership by civiliansand restricting law enforcers who can use guns, police officers willbe required to go through the available databases of persons who ownguns in every state. Using the records, they should inform theindividuals that their license has been revoked and inform them thatthey are expected to hand over their weapons, within a specifiedperiod, to police stations. Police officers should ensure that theyfollow up, to identify those who obey the law and those who do not.Law enforcers will also be responsible for summoning thoseindividuals who fail to hand over their weapons, and inform them ofthe consequences for failing to abide to the new policy.

Several interventions and conditions have to be met in order for theproposed policy to become effective. Because the proposed policy aimsat revising current gun laws, the first intervention will be fromgovernment. The ban on gun ownership should first become law. Thisway, it becomes easier to implement because citizens are aware thatthey must abide to law. The government will be required to discussabout banning gun ownership and pass a bill that will make thesuggested policy a new law. The other intervention involves policeofficers stopping the licensing of weapons. The policy requires a banon gun ownership. Because individuals are able to own guns once theyhave a license, revoking the warrants will ensure that civilians canno longer purchase and use firearms.

The first step to ensure the policy is consistently implementedinvolves having government enact the policy as the new gun law. Next,law enforcers will be required to ensure that the law is followed.The media will be used to inform civilians about the new law and theactions being taken by law enforcers, which are revoking gunlicenses. Police officers will identify the states that have fewcitizens licensed to use guns, revoke their licenses and ask them tohand over their guns to authorities. The same procedure will followin other states. Another step will be to identify law enforcers whohave no psychological disorders, and ensure that they are the onlyone handling firearms.

Action Planning

A number of resources will be needed to allow police officers collectall guns owned by civilians and unauthorized law enforcers, and torevoke licenses. This is illustrated in the resource plan below.

Labor/ Equipment/ Materials

Responsibilities/ Purpose/ Components

Cost Projections

Project Manager

  • In charge of ensuring that the policy is successfully implemented.

  • Supervise other individuals working on the same task.

  • Advice on the best approaches of implementing the policy

$ 18,000

The cost of paying the project manager is an approximate cost for one year.

Police Officers

  • Look into databases to identify people with gun licenses.

  • Revoke all gun licenses and ensure the weapons are handed over to authorities.

  • Identify police officers fit to handle and use firearms.

There will be no amount paid to police officers to implement the policy.

It is expected that this will be part of their duties and responsibilities.

Computers

  • Police officers will need computers to review available databases of civilians who own guns.

  • Computers will be used to record update on the policy implementation progress.

10 computers will be added to every police station.

It is approximated that the total cost of purchasing computers for the first few states will be $5,000

Funding for the resources will be obtained from volunteers. Bearingin mind that many individuals have been either directly or indirectlyaffected by current gun laws, it is highly likely that they will bewilling to volunteer to fund implementation of the policy. Researchcollected in the literature review shows that almost half ofAmericans think the current gun laws need to be revised. This is agood number to appeal to assist in donating funds towards theproposed policy. Another source of resource will be government. Thegovernment supports projects aimed at promoting the public good. Itis anticipated that once the new policy is accepted as the new gunlaw, the government will donate funds to assist in implementation.

Since the proposed policy will first be implemented in severalstates, in addition to the fact that a lot of time is needed tosuccessfully implement the change, the implementation tasks are to beaccomplished within a one year period as shown in the chart below.

Activities

Oct

Nov

Dec

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

June

July

Aug

Sep

Introduce policy

Review databases

Revoke licenses

Collect guns

Review progress

Final review

An equally important factor to consider when planning onimplementing the policy is how to reduce conflict and resistance, toensure proper coordination of activities, enhance communication andhow to orient participants. All personnel will be required to work aspart of a team instead of individually. This is because teamworkenhances synchronization of activities. Also, when people work as ateam, they are able to share ideas and each member is able to expresshis or her views, in the process reducing conflict. Opencommunication will be encouraged amid all staff to ensure that theyare able to talk freely about issues encountered when implementingthe project.

Building and maintaining support is equally significant because theproposed policy is likely to face resistance. Civilians are highlylikely to resist the invoking of their license, since many Americansbelieve it is their right to own guns. Such resistance will make thework of police officers difficult. This is because officers will haveto follow up on such individuals and ensure that they hand over theirweapons to authorities. Law enforcers will respond by reminding thepeople resisting that their licenses have been revoked, and that theyare liable to adhere to the new law, failure to which they will bearrested. Law enforcers who are not allowed to handle and usefirearms may also be another source of resistance. Dealing with theirresistance will involve ensuring they understand their psychologicaldisorders do not allow them to use guns.

Policy Implementation and Monitoring

The policy will be implemented through the use of surveys. Thepolicy proposes that by banning gun ownership and restricting lawenforcers who can handle firearms, crimes will reduce. Hence, thesuccess of the policy will be monitored by conducting survey tocollect primary data from hospitals and law enforcement agencies. Theinstitutions record all the information concerning crime incidencesthat have been perpetrated using guns. Hence, they are a source ofreliable information. The survey results will be used to monitorwhether the number of gun related crimes have reduced. This meansthat for the policy to be successful there ought to be a decline insuch crimes, from when the policy implementation begins.

The survey should be collected on a monthly basis. The policy willbe initially implemented in the states, which have few citizenslicensed to use guns. Thus, it will be easier to conduct surveys inthese states. Police officers and volunteer medical practitionerswill be in charge of data collection. They are the most suitableindividuals to collect data, because they have first hand access toinformation concerning gun related crimes. Hence, the primary datathey collect will be accurate and timely. The information will becollected on a daily basis and recorded in the policy monitoringcomputerized data entry and storage systems. Storing the informationon a daily basis ensures that the data is accurate and also reducesthe possibility of making assumptions. Also, storing the informationon computers ensures that it is secure and cannot be lost or accessedby unauthorized individuals.

Evaluation

The expected policy outcomes are that civilians will hand over theirguns to authorities. As a result, the number of crimes reported inpolice stations and hospitals due to firearm related incidences willdecline. Also, the number of racial crimes committed by policeofficers who have psychological disorders will also decline. Hence,the successful implementation of the policy will be evaluated byassessing the success that has been achieved in the states where thepolicy is carried out. For instance, assuming that the policy isfirst implemented in Utah and within the first three months the gunrelated crime rates reduce, it will be a clear indicator that thepolicy is attaining its objectives. The primary data on crime ratescollected before the policy, and data collection during the course ofthe policy will be presented to the people funding the policy. It isimportant that the investors are informed that their money is beingused effectively.

When evaluating the success of the policy, it is important to putinto consideration factors that may affect success. One such factoris biased history. While collecting data about crimes committed usingguns, or the rate at which the crimes have reduced, there is apossibility that the information might not be true. To reduce suchbias, random assignment will be employed. In addition, the researchdesign selected is simple pretest-posttest design. Using this designmakes it easier for personnel to collect data hence reducing thepossibility of bias.

Conclusion

Current gun laws in America make it easy for civilians to buy anduse guns. As a result, there has been a rise in crimes and homicidescommitted using guns. Most alarming has been the rise of massshootings in schools, churches and public places. In addition, therehave been incidences when police officers have been accused ofshooting civilians due to racial differences. America ranks highestin homicide and gun ownership rates when compared to other developednations. This is because most homicides are committed using firearms.As a result, there is an urgent need to propose a new gun law policy.The proposed policy entails banning civilians’ gun ownership, andrestricting law enforcers’ gun ownership. This means that allcurrent gun licenses issued to Americans will be revoked andindividuals will be required to hand over their firearms to policeauthorities. Psychological disorder tests will be performed on alllaw enforcers, to ensure that those with disorders are not allowed toown and use firearms.

References

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