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UM Module 6 policy Analyst

UM Module 6 policy Analyst


This week’s writing assignment builds on the work you did in week 4. Using the same topic you selected for the week 4 assignment, please complete the next steps of the policy analysis for this assignment. You will want to draw on the information we have covered in class and the required readings (refer to ally icon indicator low circle.5436e07e5830da539e80c55225eb37c9Chapter 4 ChiqruActions

Step 4: Policy Alternatives

Step 5: Evaluation Criteria

Step 6: Alternative Analysis

As you consider your policy options, you may need to add additional stakeholders that would be impacted by the problem or the policy options. You do not need to amend your previous assignment, but should address potential impacts to the earlier identified and newly identified stakeholders as you consider your policy options.

If you need an example to help guide you with this assignment, please refer to the following example Below: Problem Statement (provided for context):

The U.S. has a significant problem with firearms, each year over 32,000 people die from firearm related injuries in the U.S. and rates of gun related homicides and unintentional gun deaths far exceed that of other high-income countries.1,2

Background (provided for context):

The U.S has a significant firearm related mortality burden. In 1994, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act was passed which made background checks required for gun purchases from federal firearms licensees.3 Despite this measure, the act has had little to no effect on reducing the firearm homicide rate as the law does not require background checks of private sales or sales by unlicensed dealers which account for 40% of all sales within the U.S.3 Thus, homicide rates have continued to remain at a steady level in the U.S. over the past decade.3,4,5

Firearm related deaths are among the highest in the U.S., more than 80% of all firearm related deaths occur in this nation.1,2 When compared to other high income countries, the U.S.’ homicide rate is 7 times higher.2 Perhaps most shocking is the rate of homicide among those ages 15 – 24, which is 49 times higher than other developed countries.2 Gun related fatalities are the second leading cause of premature death amongst American youth, disproportionately affecting racial and ethnic minorities.1,6 A number of firearm related deaths also occur in women, 90% of all firearm related female deaths were that of American women.2

Gun related violence is also an economic burden. Estimates from 2010 indicate that the cumulative cost due to fatal and non-fatal related gun injuries was approximately $174 billion leading to an annual cost of $12 billion to the U.S. government.6 This number is astronomical — nearly twice the funds allocated to the U.S. Department of Education alone.7In addition, the magnitude of gun related mortality extends far beyond substantial economic and mortality costs. These fatalities contribute to significant emotional and psychological trauma resulting in pain, suffering, legal issues, and disability which ultimately result in loss of quality of life and productivity.6

There is a paucity of research surrounding the evaluation of firearm related policies due to laws which limit the collection of data regarding information of gun owners.8 – 10 Due to poor national or state data collection on gun ownership, and missing information from private sales, several major gaps exist regarding injuries related to firearms. There is limited ability to advance research regarding gun ownership or find causal relationships between ownership and related injuries and death. This has led to a lack of information available on violence prevention and has hindered data analysis regarding the effects of legislation on the reduction of gun related deaths. Thus, studies conflict in varying degrees in their suggestion of the application of which policies would be most effective in addressing this issue.9-15Despite this lack of data, multiple studies have determined a positive association between increased firearm ownership and firearm related homicides and suicides.10-15

Policy Options:

Status quo

The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act passed in 1994, has had little to no effect on reducing the firearm homicide rate.3,4 This may be due to the fact that the law does not require background checks of private sales or sales by unlicensed dealers which account for 40% of all sales within the U.S.12 One study demonstrated that nearly 80% of prisoners who had committed a crime with a handgun reported that they were purchased in private sales where background checks were not required.11 The law has been left to interpretation at the state level and thus there is wide variation in implementation of federal law. While approximately 14 states have included more stringent guidelines on owner registration, gun permits, licensing, and waiting periods to obtain handguns, a majority of other states have opted to enact separate laws allowing less restrictive guidelines on ownership and registration.12 Current federal law also restricts specific individuals from obtaining firearms these include those have have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, fugitives, those addicted to or who use unlawful substances, and those determined to be mentally defective or committed to an institution.16 Federal law also restricts sales of handguns to those 21 years and older, however the legal minimum age of possessing a gun is 18 years of age.16

Universal background checks

Multiple studies have demonstrated a strong association between reduction of gun related fatalities and legislation requiring background checks for the purchase of firearms and ammunition.11, 13 – 15 States which have expanded their laws and increased the accountability of gun sellers and purchasers through background checks on all gun sales, have some of the lowest gun related homicide and suicide rates in the nation.13 A recent cross sectional study published this past year, demonstrated that implementation of universal background checks at a federal level could effectively cut national firearm related mortality in half.15 This study also demonstrated that universal background checks was the most effective legislation at reducing firearm related homicides.15 Background checks have also been shown to be strongly supported by gun owners and NRA members, a recent national study found that 74% of NRA supporters, and 81% of gun owners supported a universal background check system for gun sales.18

Expand criteria restricting certain individuals from purchasing guns

Current U.S. federal law stipulates restrictions on specific individuals from purchase or possession of a firearm. These criteria however would not be effective in barring a vast majority of those who commit firearm related crimes.11 One study found that 40% of individuals who committed gun related crimes would not be prohibited under current federal law for the purchase or possession of a gun.12 In many states, individuals who have committed crimes before 21 years of age and were subsequently tried in juvenile courts for misdemeanor crimes are still legally permitted to purchase and carry a handgun.11 Expansions in laws which ban purchase of guns by those who have a history of restraining orders or domestic violence have also been shown to reduce gun related violence. 11 In states which ban individuals with a history of domestic battery or with a restraining order from purchasing firearms, have led to a 10% decrease in intimate partner related homicides. 12 Many states have not expanded federal guidelines for gun ownership and these loopholes have contributed to the attainment of firearms by those with violent youth criminal history and individuals with a history of domestic abuse who should otherwise be prohibited from purchasing guns.11 Thus, expanding criteria to prohibit those with a history of violent crimes as a juvenile and a history of domestic abuse or a violent restraining order from purchasing firearms could decrease the number of homicide fatalities.

Ban the sale and possession of assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines

A ten-year ban which prohibited the sale of assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines was passed by congress in 1994 and expired in 2004.16 Assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines have since been used in multiple mass shootings, involving more victims than other firearm related shootings due to their high ammunition capacity. Examples of this include the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary which the perpetrator entered an elementary school and used a Bushmaster XM-15 – E2S and .223 caliber semiautomatic to kill 27 people, including himself.18 Although it cannot be ascertained whether or not the ban would have prevented the shooting or the attainment of assault weapons, it has been shown that there is definite correlation between the capacity of ammunition and the number of victims who are either killed or wounded.16 A ban of assault weapons and large capacity magazines could hypothetically lead to a reduction of similar mass shooting incidents and a decrease of approximately 100 homicides each year.16

Evaluation Criteria:

The following criteria were used in considering policy alternatives:

Decrease rates of homicides and gun fatalities

Reducing the number of homicides and gun related fatalities is a paramount priority to our nation. Ensuring the public’s safety and the safety of U.S. citizens is of high concern. Thus, this criterion should be weighed heavily when determining which policy alternative would be most justified in implementing.

Cost of implementation

It is important to consider the cost of implementation of each of these policies. The ideal policy should be effective but also place minimal burden on federal or state financial reserves. Thus, cost of implementation should be taken into consideration as it is an important factor when analyzing policies.

Prevent accessibility of firearms to criminals and other high-risk individuals

Decreasing the availability of firearms to criminals and other high-risk individuals is crucial to ensuring the safety of U.S. citizens. The accessibility of firearms especially to high-risk groups has led to increased homicide and gun related fatalities. Although this is an important criterion, cost of implementation and effectiveness in reducing rates of homicide and gun related fatalities, should take precedence.



Status quo

Universal background checks

Expand criteria restricting specific high risk individuals from purchasing guns

Ban the sale and possession of assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines

Decrease rates of homicides and gun fatalities





Cost of implementation




Prevent accessibility of firearms to criminals and other high risk individuals





Key: 0 = no effect, “+” means a positive effect, and “–” means a negative effect

Analysis of Alternatives:

When analyzing the alternatives and assessing the projected outcomes, we see that if the status quo is maintained, there would be no effect on the criteria provided and with no change in homicide rate or preventing the accessibility of firearms. There would also be no cost associated with maintaining the status quo.

The implementation of universal background checks has been demonstrated in multiple studies to be the most effective policy at decreasing rates of homicides and gun related fatalities.4,14,15 States which have implemented background checks on all gun sales, have some of the lowest gun related homicide and suicide rates in the nation and projections have shown that its implementation could cut gun related mortality rates in half.13,15 Implementation of this policy would be costly however, since additional staff must be hired to perform the background checks and it would require that a new national system be put in place to enforce the policy. Its implementation however, would screen out high risk individuals and prevent them from purchasing firearms.

Expanding criteria to restrict those high-risk individuals from obtaining or purchasing guns would also decrease rates of homicide and gun fatalities, however research has suggested that it may be slightly less effective than if universal background checks were implemented.11 Expanding the criteria would be cost effective since no additional logistical issues need to be accounted for since it would build on existing legislation. It would also be effective in preventing high risk individuals from obtaining firearms and would decrease gun related fatalities through tightening legislation.

Banning the sale and possession of assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines would decrease the likelihood of mass shootings such as the one at Sandy Hook Elementary to occur and prevent the accessibility of these weapons to criminals or other high-risk individuals. This would also be cost effective since the ban would not require any additional expenditures at the federal or state level for its implementation.


When examining the alternatives, all policies are effective in decreasing rates of homicide. Research has suggested that universal background checks could be more effective at reducing gun related homicides.4,14,15 Two policies, universal background checks and expanding the criteria to prevent high risk individuals from obtaining firearms appear to have the greatest impact on preventing the accessibility of firearms to criminals and other high-risk individuals. When evaluating our second criteria, cost of implementation, universal background checks would be more costly and difficult to implement as additional staff must be hired to perform the checks and a national system must be implemented to enforce it. Although the implementation of expanding the criteria and banning the sale and possession of assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines would be less costly compared to universal background checks, the benefit of universal background checks may outweigh the cost as it has been shown to have a significant effect at both reducing gun related fatalities and preventing the accessibility of firearms from high-risk individuals.


You do not need to include a policy recommendation for the Policy Analysis Part 2 assignment!

Based on our assessment, the most effective policy would be implementation of universal background checks. Although costly to implement and sustain, this policy would be significantly more effective at reducing gun related homicides and fatalities and preventing the accessibility of firearms by high-risk individuals. This policy has also been shown to have overwhelming support from both gun owners and NRA members.

Please keep your essay to 2-3 pages.

As always, please cite your work. Review the Citation Style and Citations Management Software page and the Plagiarism page to ensure your citations are correct.

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