In other words, don't try and take shortcuts. Focus on the key issues.
"Virtually all natural systems, from ecosystems to animals to organizations, have intrinsically optimal rates of growth. The optimal rate is far less than the fastest possible growth. When growth becomes excessive—as it does in cancer—the system itself will seek to compensate by slowing down; perhaps putting the organization’s survival at risk in the process.
Peter Senge - The Fifth Discipline
The proposed amendments are drastic by any definition. And risky, as we have shown.
The Police already have everything they need to control the issue of firearms licenses.
The fact that the process is totally out of control, is undisputed.
Until the current process is under control, there is no saying that it is not working.
And until the police have taken some basic steps to improve the process, there is no saying that it cannot work.
When it comes to process improvement, there are a lot of flavours out there, and everybody has their "favourite favourite". Mine is the Theory of Constraints. It has five easy steps:
"Step 1: Identify the system's constraint.
Step 2: Elevate the constraint.
Step 3: Subordinate everything else to the constraint.
Step 4: Alleviate the constraints
Step 5: If the constraint has been broken, beware of inertia."
Eli Goldratt - The Goal
Step 1: Identify the constraint
If better licensing decisions are the goal, the person making the decision is the constraint.
Step 2: Elevate the constraint
Give that person everything he or she needs to make quicker, better decisions:
Let's look at an easy example. If the police don't think a person should be issued with more than two licenses for semi-automatic rifles, they can refuse the application. If the person doesn't accept it, he or she can approach the courts and the court can give the matter the attention it deserves. But if they believe two licenses for semi-automatic rifles are reasonable for a dedicated sportsperson, issue it. Don't use uncertainty as a mechanism to prevent people from applying. It only leads back in.
There is only a handful of shooting bodies in the country, and only a handful of possible combinations in which a dedicated sportsperson could want different types of firearms. Define these, fix the guidelines and let a junior clerk apply them. Let the senior personnel who currently consider every semi-auto rifle concern themselves with the exceptions only and free up the appeals board to handle the really difficult cases.
Step 3: Subordinate everything else to the constraint
Don't let the evaluator work on junk:
Step 4: Alleviate the constraint
If more people are needed - appoint more people. Keep the process under control.
Only one of the hundred-odd days that an application spends in the system is actually value-adding. The rest is just queuing time. And if the queues (stacks of documents) become too long, you need to start wasting resources managing the queue.
A process that is out of control requires all sorts of correcting action. Usually from more senior personnel. Act quickly to keep the process under control, and use the senior personnel to make better licensing decisions.
These are but a chopping block of ideas. Some of them might be wrong. You might have better ones. But everybody should have a basic sense of whether we've exhausted the current options or whether it is time to move on to more drastic measures.
And we haven't.