Gun Laws Cost-Benefit Analysis: Cost Benefit Analysis Term Paper

Length: 5 pages Sources: 5 Subject: Law - Constitutional Law Type: Term Paper Paper: #24944881 Related Topics: Cost Benefit Analysis, Costing Methods, Benefits Of Exercise, Administrative Law
Excerpt from Term Paper :

Gun Laws

Cost-benefit Analysis:

Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) is the method with the help of which the answer to the question of "did the spending serve its purpose?" is obtained. It is an analytical process of measuring the utility of an interventional process or ways and methods of reaching and objective. In the domain of crime prevention, the programs carried out are subjected to this analysis among others by the Australian government and others to look at the efficacy of the designed and implemented policies. Amongst the first in the world to put the policies through this rigor are the governments of American and United Kingdom. In Australia, the method has been seen to make inroads in recent times and is not as prevalent as in the aforementioned countries (Dossetor, 2011).

To cite an example, Gun control in the United States has been an issue of debate for quite some time now. Gun Control Act takes into its ambit all the parameters of reducing the use of the dangerous weapon viz., regulations regarding, carrying firearms, its use, sale import, and manufacture of guns. The primary objective is to reduce its use. The contentions and debates can be seen in the examples cited. For instance, Gun controls act is discriminatory in the way, objective and type of people operating it: A drug peddler or abuser that uses a machine gun to shoot squirrels in Central Park is deemed a criminal or offender under the provisions of the laws. On the other hand, a peasant shooting woodchucks on her estate with her .22 bore rifle is largely out of the ambit of the laws that constitute the Gun Control (Cook & Leitzel, 1996).

Tangible Areas of Policy:

The cost to the victim in such crimes is broadly classified as tangible or direct costs and indirect or intangible cost. Tangible costs generally comprise of medical and legal fees accrued, wage losses and policing and jailing costs. These are apparently direct costs and may seem to be easy to quantify. That may however not be the case always. At present, there is a lack of norms to quantify the losses to the victims accurately (Cohen 2000). The United States 'National Crime Victimization Survey' is a half-yearly exercise undertaken by the Bureau of Justice. It takes a judicious, detailed look at the expenses incurred by the victims in domestic violence and personal cases. In spite of the fact that it is a good premise to build upon, it has its own shortcomings owing to logistical problems. The victims' expenses are generally undervalued by a large margin. It can be understood because the costs of only six months are taken into account. The long-term costs in availing medical care are precluded or overlooked in the process.

The more dominant mental costs of such incidents are more difficult to assess and are excluded in these surveys as a result (Cohen & Miller 1998), this dimension is still rather an ignored one even now, state Groves & Cork in 2008.

Intangible Areas of Policy:

Intangible costs comprise mental, psychological, and emotional costs, meaning, the cost of pain, suffering and overall quality of life because of the crime and are prone to contention when compared to tangible costs (Cohen et al. 2004). In early days, Intangible costs were excluded from the criminal CBAs. That resistance was owing to the fact that there was little data to measure them (Farrell, Bowers & Johnson 2005). Farrell, Bowers and Johnson (2005) have shown that in spite of the high monetary loss in car theft, the intangible costs are comparatively much less and have a short life-span. All the same, they have their place of significance in the total cost owed to the victim. Intangible costs do not find the same significance in the overall assessment and is greatly undervalued (Wise et al. 2005). These costs are difficult to appropriate, yet certain methodologies have been devised to measure intangible losses in monetary terms (Dossetor, 2011).

Cost-benefit Analysis in terms of Equity and Policy-Making:

CBA is more concerned about total costs and advantages it offers. It does not take into account the distribution of the same, whereas, the distribution is more consequential in the construct....


Each section of the distribution should be weighed in equitably. For example, an industrial chemical manufacturing unit provides profits to shareholders, taxes to governments and wages to workers on a positive note. It however, deteriorates air quality in its surroundings. The gainers are only a handful and the victims are much, much more. However, since the benefits outweigh the measurable losses, it is a largely acceptable situation presumably. The economy theorists contend that the only thing of consequence in the construct is that the gainers would be able to pay off the losers by their gains and ensure equitable distribution, an act that is hardly ever carried out in practice. The theorists argue in favor of the tangible gainers by asking to wait for the time when the equations would settle all by themselves eventually. The social history has however demonstrated that the tilts is always in favor of the richer and the poorer keep getting the wrong end of the stick and suffer the most unwelcome costs of acts of the gainers. (Beder, 2000).

Another consequential manifestation lies in the "null hypothesis problem." Even as the NRC depiction on gun violence evaluates type I error on the basis of scientific claims to provide for measurable evidence, the norms should be altered to incorporate, according to us, the monetary evaluation of the benefits to the aggrieved, while framing the laws. This view is shared by the legislature, too. Improvements in the system are sought to be induced by actualizing such policies. In instances where the relevance is found wanting and in absence of solid proofs, Status quo is maintained. However, that may not be an entirely acceptable proposition to reach equitable distribution, more so, in light of the fact that intangible assessments are comparatively more difficult to arrive at as against tangible and scientifically ascertained value costs and benefits. The inclination and training under which analysts are more adept to assess costs is based on 'real' proofs. In propositioning values to projections of conjecture they may be found wanting in quantifying as well as choosing the right beneficiary (Cook & Ludwig, 2006).

Here it becomes pertinent to take note of the quandary that legal circles face when confronted by confusing evidences. They can, for example, at the most postulate the possibility of private ownership of guns as a deterrent to crime and based on it formulate policies for crime prevention.

In the pre-Lott era the possibility of private ownership of guns may have been ruled out based on the circumstantial conditions as a measure to prevent crimes. Following this presumption, an enactment may have followed to act as a deterrent in spite of the fact that statistical results may not have supported the outcomes in favor of the regulations. The logic would be- If a gun regulation is 'not worsening' and at the same time the 'possibility helping the situation cannot be ruled out' (criminal offense), then it is worthwhile to carry on with the act. In this premise, the costs to the taxpayers are ignored in favor of the anticipated general good. In the same vein, the dimension of the freedom is also largely ignored.

Examples of public policy analysis:

Cook and Ludwig (2006) say that except for specific instances, they believe it is beneficial to assess the sum total of legal inventions proposed within a legal framework. As an example, when "rational violence" is an accepted notion, then we seek to make it difficult for criminals to possess a gun or firearm, by working around the regulations. The main aim will then be to increase the (imagined and factual) possibility and intensity (severity) of punishing consequences for misuse. If this can be achieved and be assured that socially responsible citizens can still carry the gun for self-defense, then the regulations and interventions would have served its purposes well. The following list includes some helpful measures:

• Re-design the licensing system to ease traceability of ownership;

• Make better use of the available technology to ascertain

The ballistic "fingerprints" on shell casings found near the scene of crimes. That would help ascertain the gun and hence possible owner of the crime weapon. It would also help retrace the circumstantial chronology and connection of events;

• Launch intensive policing measures and drives to weed out illegal firearms carried in crime-prone districts;

• Announce rewards for information conveyed on illegal possession of firearms.

Process is generally defined in the dictionary as a sequence of actions or operations conclusively achieving an aim (Reyes, 2001). All Social behavior is hence a procedural manifestation. Policy makers and researchers have hence been conventionally inclined to institutionalize processes, that is, those "sequence of actions or operations" aligned with bureaucracies executives, courts, legislatures, political institutions and thereby political parties. Largely, political science syllabi are tuned into…

Sources Used in Documents:


Beder, S. (2002).Costing the Earth: Equity, Sustainable Development and Environmental Economics. New Zealand Journal of Environmental Law, 4, 227-243. Retrieved from

Cohen, M.A., & Miller, T.R. (1998).The cost of mental health care for victims of crime. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 13, 93-100.

Cohen, M.A. (2000). Measuring the costs and benefits of crime and justice, in LaFree G, Measurement and analysis of crime and justice. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice

Cohen, M.A., Rust, R.T., Steen, S., & Tidd, S.T. (2004).Willingness to- pay for crime control programs. Criminology, 42(1), 89-109
Cook, P.J., & Lietzel, J.A. (1996). Perversity, futility, Jeopardy: An economic analysis of the attack on gun control. Retrieved from
Cook, P.J., & Ludwig, J. (2006). Aiming for evidence-based gun policy. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 25 (3), 691-735. Retrieved from
Dossetor, K. (2011). Cost-benefit analysis and its application to crime prevention and criminal justice research. Australian Institute of Criminology. Retrieved from
Reyes, G.E. (2001).The Policy Making Process and Models for Public Policy Analysis. Retrieved from

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