Policy Diffusion and Strategies for Promoting Policy Change: Evidence From California Local Gun Control Ordinances


  • Marcia L. Godwin,

    1. received her Ph.D in political science in May 2000 at Claremont Graduate University and is presently teaching in the Department of Political Science at Western Washington University. Her research interests include innovation in state and local government, morality policy, and electoral politics. She has more than 10 years of experience working in county and municipal government.
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  • Jean Reith Schroedel

    1. associate professor and chair of the Department of Politics and Policy at Claremont Graduate University. She is the author of numerous articles and several books, most recently Is the Fetus a Person? A Comparison of Policies Across the Fifty States (2000).
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Recent research efforts on policy innovation and diffusion largely have focused upon policymaking at the state government level. In this article we seek to develop an understanding of the ways momentum for policy change can be generated among receptive local governments. We use gun control policymaking within California to illustrate how local government characteristics, the presence of regional associations, and the establishment of interest groups may lead to policy development and diffusion. We also identify linkages between interest groups, focusing events, and the successful use of a new image of gun violence as a public health problem, yielding insights into strategies that may be used successfully to promote policy change.