Legislating under the influence of catastrophe 

It didn't take long after the Tuscon shooting for politicians and pundits to start proposing legislative responses. I haven't done a systematic study of this, but I would guess that legislation passed quickly in reaction to tragedies, horrors, and catastrophes tend to range from pointless to really bad.

Jacob Sullum at Reason makes a similar argument today. Here's his lede:

Jared Lee Loughner, the man accused of shooting 20 people outside a Tucson grocery store on Saturday, probably will never get a chance to create the "new money system" he discusses in one of his rambling YouTube videos. But he can still have an important effect on public policy—if we let him.

Also, Chris Moody at the Daily Caller has compiled the five dumbest legislative reactions to the shooting. I list them below (note that three of the five are proposed by "conservatives"):

  • Encase the entire House and Senate floor with Plexiglass so the tourists can’t throw things at members of Congress
    ~Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind.
  • Impose a federal ban on carrying a firearm within 1,000 feet of any “high-profile” public officia
    ~Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.
  • Make it illegal to draw pictures of elected officials within crosshairs or say things that might be considered ‘threatening’ to lawmakers
    ~Rep. Robert Brady, D-Pa.
  • Use the Federal Communication Commission’s power to finally get that dastardly Rush Limbaugh off the air (or at least get him to stop being so mean)
    ~Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C.
  • Since the alleged Tucson gunman liked to smoke pot, the federal government should impose tougher drug laws
    ~David Frum

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Timothy P. Carney

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