Friday, January 14, 2011

Extreme Reactions

Here are two of the more absurd responses by lawmakers in the wake of the tragic shooting in Tuscon.  First, we have Republican Representative Louis Gohmert of Texas, who plans to introduce a bill to allow members of Congress to carry guns in the District of Columbia, including in the Capitol and on the House floor.  This is needed, in his view, so that he and his fellow elected representatives can protect themselves.  I'm not sure it is such a good idea to allow people like Rep. Gohmert, who believes that Al Qaeda is sending pregnant women to the U.S. to give birth to "terror babies," to carry loaded firearms on the floor of the House of Representatives.  

On the flip side we have Democratic Representative Robert Brady of Pennsylvania.  He wants to introduce legislation making it a federal crime for a person to use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a Member of Congress or federal official.  I'm all for toning down the toxic rhetoric but this is insane -- wait, can I say that?

After a horrific tragedy there is a strong impulse by lawmakers to act quickly and boldly in order to appear to be doing something to prevent a re-occurence.  This invariably results in drafting bills that run roughshod over civil liberties, civil rights and the rights of criminal defendants, while doing nothing to make us safer.   Bad facts do make bad law, as the old adage says.  After 9/11 we had the Patriot Act; after the Oklahoma City bombing we had the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.  The list goes on and on.  If Congress wants to do something productive, it can pass more stringent gun control laws, provide more funding for mental health programs, and -- voluntarily -- go easy on the crazy talk about "terror babies." 

[Related posts:  Culture of Paranoia, Second Amendment Remedies; Tragic and Inevitable]


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