There’s a long history of instances where the call to “do something” resulted in bad public policy.
On Oct. 26, 2001, then-President George W. Bush signed the Patriot Act into law, shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks shook our nation. While the act was well-intentioned — it sought to improve national security — many programs and policies it created allowed for rampant abuse of our civil liberties, including widespread domestic surveillance.
Additionally, following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which purported to prevent espionage on American soil. The order targeted those of Japanese descent, many of whom were citizens, and saw them sent to internment camps. In total, about 117,000 people were affected by this misguided, fear-driven policy.
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The rush to craft “solutions” in Washington, D.C., and state capitals across the country in response to tragedy is an ill-fated endeavor.
Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told the media "What we can't do is fail to pass something. The urgency of this is not lost on any of us." While well-intentioned, passing laws for the sake of “doing something,” does not solve anything. In fact, the “do something,” emotion-driven approach only ensures that bad policy will win the day.