Why are you doing this to her? This is the question that Albert asked the stranger who had slapped a pregnant woman after an argument. Albert had just walked out of a bar at around midnight and was rushing home. On his way, he met a man and a woman arguing. The man slapped the woman; sending her to the ground. Albert walked to where they were and asked the man why he was treating a pregnant a woman in such a manner. The man only said ‘thank you’, but as Albert turned to leave, he saw him remove a gun and the next thing he can remember was the sound of a gunshot that left him paralyzed.
This resulted in him leaving his former job. Currently, he moves in a wheelchair (Arena & Drea, 2008). Albert’s case is just one of such unfortunate shootings that take place in America that leave many dead. One of the contributions to this is the freedom that Americans have in possessing firearms. There have even been cases of students going to school and shooting their fellow students (Grimpby, 2007). The constitution recognizes the rights of the American people to own and bear arms (Tuccille, 2009); unlike Britain that has very strict laws on the possession of guns by its citizens.
The cause of many deaths and injuries brought about by the Americans on their fellow citizens is the reason why President Obama admired the British system on gun control and suggested increased control in America (Annenberg, 2008). The president realizes that for gun control to be effected, it requires the constitution of America to be amended, which may not be an easy task as he has to follow all the steps included in the policy making. This essay describes how President Obama’s idea on increased gun control in America can become law using the Public Policy model.
History of the Gun Control in America The Second Amendment states that “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 ”(New York Times, 2009). In 1837, the State of Georgia had passed laws to ban handguns, but the law was regarded as unconstitutional and was thrown out. In the year 1865, some States in the South passed what was referred to as the ‘black codes’ that prohibited the blacks from owning or possessing firearms (New York Times, 2009). After the assassination of the John F.
Kennedy in 1963, there was increased public awareness about the lack of proper control over the possession and sale of guns. Until 1968 ammunition, shotguns and rifles could be sold over the counter or by mail order to any willing adult (News batch, 2008). In 1968, the Gun control Act of 1968 was passed making the sale of firearms illegal to those who were incompetent, underage, mentally unstable, users of the illegal drugs and criminals. In 1994, a law was passed that made any member of the public willing to purchase a gun to wait for a longer period after applying.
This is to allow local agencies to conduct checks; the law that was later declared unconstitutional in 1997. An amendment that required the trigger to have a lock mechanism in every gun failed in the Senate. However the dealers were to provide trigger locks for the willing buyers. In 1998, the Brady Act was put into effect meaning that dealers had to scrutinize their customers through the NICS computer system before selling any guns. In 1999 the Senate passed a bill that required trigger locks to be fitted on guns manufactured after that period (New York Times, 2009).
Having the knowledge of gun control history in America, President Obama should now get the details on gun control from Britain to compare with those of our country. He should also make the public aware of the details through the media or civic education. In Britain, all firearms must hold either the short gun certificate or firearm certificate (Gabb, 2009). Obtaining a short gun certificate is easier and one can be allowed to have as many guns as he can accommodate. The certificates have information on the type of the gun and its serial number as well as information on the number of ammunitions one is supposed to have at a specific time.
Even before one gets the certificate, he or she must convince the Home Affairs office that his or her reason is valid. The reasons must moreover be work or sporting related (Gabb, 2009). The applicant must have two referees who have known them for a long period of time. The law also states that anyone who has served a sentence of more than three years is not entitled to own a gun. Those who possess the firearms illegally get a five years’ sentence plus a fine. If one breaks any of the rules regarding the proper storage, he or she has his certificate revoked and also has to surrender the firearm.
Before a gun is issued, a face to face interview is mandatory for the applicant (OPSI, 1988). These are points that he should include in his proposal. The Policy Model The President will be required to use a public policy model which is basically an attempt by the government to address an issue of the general public. There are three parts that constitute a public policy model, namely the players, the problem and the policy itself. The “problem” is the issue that needs to be discussed and in this case is “gun control in America”.
The “player” can be described as the individual or group that influences a system to form a plan that addresses the problem in question. In this case President Obama and his advisers are the players while the policy is that final course of action that the government has decided to act upon (Venus 2009). Public policy is a result of dynamics and interactions among interests, institutions, actors and processes. Policy agendas are formed and enacted by the President and the Congress while the courts and the bureaucracy implement and interpret the policies (College Board, 2009).
Policy making models are usually the simplified descriptions of real world events that are complex and that highlight political features thus clarifying the confusing and obscure events (Cockrel, 1997). In this case the model that President Obama should use is “Power Cluster” model which means different actors will be involved in the process making from formulation, evaluation to revision. These may include the administrative agencies, professionals, legislative committees, latent and attentive public, volunteers and finally the special interest groups (Cockrel, 1997).
President Obama would follow this course of action in the making of the gun control policy. The first step is that of definition of the issue and the reason for the introduction of new policy. The issue here is that public freedom on the owning and the acquisition of guns in America does not adequately prevent misuse of firearms. A comparison between US law and UK law demonstrates that there is a gap with the latter’s ability to control use of handguns. This has brought many negative effects that include guns ending up in the wrong hands.
The criminals have easily used them to break the law, children have gone to school with rifles and shot their fellow students while the mentally incapable have gotten access to guns, causing much havoc in their locality. The second step will be to formulate a good proposal (Cockrel, 1997). President Obama will need to come up with a concrete written proposal on how to handle, solve or manage this problem. Some of the proposals may be to restrict the number of people who will own guns based on their needs.
He however needs to state that Americans will not be denied the right to purchase or possess guns but it will only be based on the necessity just as it is done in Britain. This would mean that intensive vetting will be done before one is issued with a rifle and also the punishment for illegal possession of a rifle would be made severer to discourage the law breakers. The businesses that sell rifles will also be closely monitored by the authorities so that they may not sell guns to those who are not qualified to possess a fiream (Cockrel, 1997).
The next step will be the presentation of the proposals to the public and it at this stage that proposals will either gain or loose the support of the members of the public depending on how it has been framed or presented (Cockrel, 1997). For example, there are those that will oppose Obama’s idea stating that the guns are used by the public to defend themselves from the criminals. The next step will be for the proposals to be subjected for authoritative consideration and in this case the authority is Congress that debates on the proposals in form of a draft.
The American system of passing any idea into law is complex and involves a very long process. Ideas for legislation can originate from a member of the Congress or the constituents, who may petition and present a proposal to a member (Johnson, 2003). President Obama can decide to have the bill originate from him or use one of his cabinet members or even a human rights/civil rights movement leader. This communication is then taken to the standing committee that has the jurisdiction on the matter being raised (Johnson, 2003).
The chairperson of the committee will then introduce the bill immediately either in its original form or in an edited version. In many cases, the bill may not need any form of alteration as the executive departments and agencies hire legislative counsels to draft the bills. The proposals are then presented to the Congress so that they can be enacted. The introduction of the bill will prompt the Congress to start its work. The bill can originate from the Senate or from the House of Representatives. The gun control bill affects the entire American population and thus it will be presented as a public bill (Johnson, 2003).
In the House of Representatives, the bill will directly be placed in the Journal and then printed in the Congressional Record. After being sent to the necessary committee, the bill is then printed and afterwards placed in all document rooms in the two Houses. The committee chairman must give a chance for the members of the public to be heard regarding the bill. The speaker may also send the bill to different committees for scrutiny (Johnson, 2003). After the hearing, the sub committee will have a “make up” session analyzing in details the views of both sides.
The committee’s report must be presented to the house explaining their reasons for approval. The bill will then be subjected to debating in what is referred to as the committee of the whole house (Johnson, 2003). After debating on the bill, it will now be subjected to the second reading with each member being given equal amount of time to contribute either for or against the bill. In the second reading, the bill will be read section-by-section and the members may require for an amendment of a specific section. The members will then vote on the amendments that have been made, and vote for the passing of the bill.
In America the bill must be agreed to by both houses; the Senate and the House of Representatives if it has to become law (Johnson, 2003). President Obama will sign the bill and it will become law. This would be the end of the “Authoritative Decision” stage of the policy making (Cockrel, 1997). The other step would be for the implementation of the policy which has now been signed as law. Different entities of the government will implement the law. This would mean that the law on the gun control would now be fully implemented in the United States with enforcement procedures being developed.
The last process will be the evaluation where the consequences of the policy’s implementations are considered. This can be done through formal means like analysis or informally for example how the general public has reacted to it. This is where a policy reveals whether it was a failure or a success (Cockrel 1997). In this case the people will be willing to see whether crime rate or gun mishandling cases have been reduced or have increased or have remained at the same level. If the policy is described as a failure then the whole process may begin again. Conclusion
Obama was impressed by the British system of controlling the public’s possession of rifles and suggests that similar measures be introduced in the US. However, the constitution gives Americans the right to own and possess guns without much restriction. President Obama thus has an uphill task of introducing policy that will limit the use of handguns so as to prevent criminal practice while not infringing on the rights of the same American citizens that need to be protected. References Annenberg Center. (2008). NRA targets Obama. Retrieved February 26, 2009, from http://www. factcheck. org/elections-2008/nra_targets_obama. html Arena, S.
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