Multiple streams and advocacy coalition approach the assault weapons ban reauthorization
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Multiple Streams and Advocacy Coalition Approach: The Assault Weapons Ban Reauthorization. Introduction.

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Multiple Streams and Advocacy Coalition Approach: The Assault Weapons Ban Reauthorization

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Multiple Streams and Advocacy Coalition Approach: The Assault Weapons Ban Reauthorization


  • Responding to a growing problem in society posed by particular types of firearms, in 1994, Congress passed the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Protection Act thereby banning for ten years the possession, transfer, or further domestic manufacture of semiautomatic assault weapons and high capacity ammunition feeding devices (known as AWB).

  • Paper examines the multiple streams associated with the current debate over the reauthorization of the AWB, with particular emphasis on the advocacy coalitions and the politics involved.

Problem Streams: Conditions and Crises

  • No consensus has been reached as to the best ways to go about reducing gun-related violent crime in the US.

  • Discussion over the role of assault weapons in crime and the impact of AWB is still as controversial as it was prior to the ban.

  • The challenge of measuring the impact of AWB is complicated by the fact that gun manufactures have been able to alter guns outlawed under the AWB in a way that guns are now legal.

Problem Streams: Conditions and Crises (cont.)

In the problem stream are the crises that result from violent, high profile gun-related crimes in a society:

  • 1989 shooting in a California schoolyard;

  • October 2002 Washington D.C. area sniper shootings.

    Current fight against terrorism also provides motivation to some for the renewal the ban.

Policy streams – AWB Legislation in the 108th Congress

  • Three bills have been introduced in the 108th Congress that aim to repeal the expiration date on the 1994 AWB as well as to expand the provision of the act.

  • To date, no legislative action has been taken.

Political Streams: Gun-Related Advocacy Groups

Several advocacy groups are working towards the passage of an AWB reauthorization. They argue that more firearm restrictions are necessary to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and juveniles.

  • The Freedom State Alliance;

  • The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence;

  • Handgun Control, Inc.;

  • The Violence Policy Center

    Most major level groups employ lobbyists to influence Capitol Hill, but often lacking in monetary resources.

Political Streams: Gun-Related Advocacy Groups (cont.)

  • Several advocacy groups are also working together and their own to block legislation that will reauthorize the AWB.

  • Gun rights groups argue that instead of keeping firearms out of the hands of “high risk” individuals, more burden is on law-abiding citizens to own guns; and claim that the AWB is ineffectual.

  • Groups working to stop the AWB: National Rifle Association (NRA); Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep & Bear Arms (CCRKBA); Gun Owners of America; Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership;

Political Streams: Gun-Related Advocacy Groups (cont.)

  • Each of the guns rights organizations are funding solely through membership dues and individual contributions.

  • The NRA is one of the largest and most powerful membership groups in Washington D.C. with a membership at over 4 million and an annual budget of almost $90 million.

  • The real power of NRA lies in their ability to use its grassroots capabilities to deliver votes to candidates.

Political Streams: National Mood

  • Groups on both sides of the AWB reauthorization debate are actively attempting to convince officials that their organization represents the true interest of the people;

  • Evidence shows that while national mood in the early 1990s was in favor of more gun regulation, this mood may have shifted.

  • It may be that “ economic decline, the war on terrorism, and the war with Iraq are overshadowing the public’s concern about gun violence.”

Political Streams: Political Parties


  • The actions of Bush administration are generally viewed in favor among gun rights activists;

  • In the heat of 2000 elections Bush pledged to support an AWB renewal;

  • In May, 2003 , House majority leader created controversy by asserting that “The votes in the House are not there’ to pass the renewal.”

Political Streams: Political Parties (cont.)


  • Many Democrats have a fear of embracing gun control measures, which has much to do with the 2000 presidential elections;

  • Democrats in Congress seem hesitant to place a priority on the AWB renewal.

  • Gun control issues are nearly non-existent in the 2004 Democratic presidential campaigns.

Analysis: Will the AWB be Reauthorized

  • The AWB reauthorization debate is a struggle between the President, Congress, the NRA and its allies, and a host of organizations committed to extending and expanding the AWB;

  • An advocacy coalition framework appears to yield a conclusion that AWB will most likely not be reauthorized in the short time before it expires;

Analysis: Will the AWB be Reauthorized (cont.)

  • The national mood has shifted away from more gun control;

  • The gun control coalition’s challenge is to convince congressional Democrats and 2004 presidential candidates that they can stand up to the NRA and still win elections;

  • Resources favor gun rights advocates;

  • Even if the AWB is not authorized, a ban on assault weapons will likely reemerge given different circumstances in the future.

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