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Aiming to Explain: Theories of Policy Change and Canadian Gun Control (2022)

(Publisher : University of Toronto Press)

Author(s) : B. Timothy Heinmiller, Matthew A. Hennigar

B. Timothy Heinmiller is an associate professor and chair in the Department of Political Science at Brock University.

Matthew A. Hennigar is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at Brock University.


Using Canadian firearms policy, this book examines five prominent policy process theories employed during the period from the 1989 Montreal Massacre to the 2012 cancellation of the universal firearms registry. Throughout, the authors present rigorous applications of rational choice institutionalism, social constructivism, the advocacy coalition framework, the multiple streams framework, and punctuated equilibrium.

Table of contents

1. Multi-Theoretical Analysis and Theories of Policy Change
2. The Evolution of Canadian Firearms Policy
3. The Canadian Policy Environment
4. Policy as Strategic Decision Making: Rational Choice Institutionalism
5. Exploitation and Power: The Social Construction Framework
6. Policy-Making as a Team Sport: The Advocacy Coalition Framework
7. Timing is Everything: The Multiple Streams Framework
8. Small Steps and Giant Leaps: Punctuated Equilibrium Theory
9. Conclusion
Works Cited

Bibliographic Information

"Using a rich assortment of data, Aiming to Explain carefully assesses the strengths and limitations of leading public policy theories in explaining the evolution of gun control policy in Canada. It is a welcome and valuable addition to the relatively sparse public policy literature on criminal justice in Canada and I highly recommend it for those interested in gun control or public policy analysis more generally."

Troy Riddell, Associate Professor of Political Science/Criminal Justice and Public Policy, University of Guelph

"Aiming to Explain provides a unique approach to studying public policy by applying several different policy theories to firearms policy in Canada. This is a valuable contribution to public policy scholarship and an excellent text for students trying to learn how various policy theories can be applied to deepen our understanding of how and why public policies are made and changed."

Carolyn Johns, Professor of Politics and Public Administration, Ryerson University


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