Emotions don't produce good policy. Mass shootings are tragic and gun control laws will do nothing to stop them.
In the wake of the Vegas mass shooting—the deadliest in U.S. history—anti-gun activists are out in force. "There can be no truce with the Second Amendment" reads a headline at The New Yorker. "How should we politicize mass shootings?" asks The New Republic. "Dear Dana Loesch, shut up" proclaims a piece at Refinery 29. Late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel told his audience on Monday, "There are a lot of things we can do about [gun violence]. But we don't."
Who can blame them? Of course Second Amendment defenders say that this isn't the time for an emotion-laden discussion of horrific violence. Shouldn't we resist "the grotesque urge to immediately transform all human tragedies into a political agenda" before we even know what happened, I asked just yesterday. Seven years ago, in the wake of the shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords, I sounded a similar note, arguing that the "the goddamn politicization of every goddamn —thing not even for a higher purpose or broader fight but for the cheapest moment-by-moment partisan advantage" was one of the major reasons that Americans increasingly hate politics and politicians.
I stand by all that. It's wrong, I think, to immediately pivot to what are inevitably pushed as "common-sense" policy responses to gun attacks, such as banning "assault weapons" (a class of guns that doesn't really exist, have been banned in the past with no impact on violence, and detract from other, arguably more effective regulations). Thoughts of tearing up the Constitution clearly come more from the heart than the head and should be resisted until the passions calm at least a little. If hard cases make bad law, then public tragedies make terrible policy, whether we're talking about mass shootings, acts of terrorism, or celebrity drug overdoses.
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