National Security: Knee JerkJan 11th, 2011 | By Submitted | Category: Editorials
The lone shooter, 22 year old Jared Loughner, is in custody thanks to the quick action of several bystanders – they kept him from reloading after he had expended a 31-round clip and wrestled him to the ground. In barely 48 hours, we are learning more about Loughner and his troubled past. What is emerging is the picture of a mentally unstable young man, although apparently he had never been diagnosed or institutionalized.
As the shock of this tragedy wears off, left-wing politicians and media are replaying two familiar mantras: gun control and political speech. The narrative goes like this – we wouldn’t have these types of incidents if we clamped down on the proliferation of firearms and cleansed the airwaves of so-called hate speech from right wing media.
We have heard this type of knee-jerk reaction more than once. In the wake of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, no less than President Bill Clinton called out talk radio for supposedly inciting this type of violence. Every mass shooting results in a renewed call for gun control. In the race for headlines, there is a stampede among the media and their political allies to transform a tragedy into a crisis that only they can solve with more regulation.
It is unfortunate when politicians use a tragedy such as this to push their political agenda. In a similar vein, former chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel said that “we should never waste a crisis” in order to push an aggressive political agenda. The danger here is that there is a “rush to judgment” where facts are ignored and a narrative is pushed without any reason or debate. Often, the result is not only rushed, but creates many unintended consequences as well.
What we should concentrate on is the accused gunman and his history of mental instability. The guy was a nut case and lots of people knew it. Why were the signals missed or ignored? Why weren’t law enforcement officers at this public gathering? Instead, some are going after his firearm and a nebulous connection to political speech. It’s like looking for a rabbit in an empty hole.
In the wake of the Enron Scandal ten years ago, Congress rushed through a piece of legislation known as Sarbanes-Oxley named after its congressional sponsors. Without truly addressing the accounting deficiencies that resulted in the Enron mess, this legislation heaped enormous accounting costs on business and prevented many private companies from going public. It was if legislators and their lobbyists had a bill in their desk drawer waiting for the first accounting scandal to occur; never mind whether or not their bill addressed the actual issues or not.
This is typical of political opportunists. Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy of New York, herself a victim of gun violence, is dusting off gun control legislation in the wake of the Arizona shooting. Never allow a crisis to pass without some activist regulation. Grab some headlines, pass the bill in a flurry, and sort out the consequences later.
There is an old cliché that goes like this: haste makes waste. Never is this more true than with legislation. Good law requires careful debate, consideration of all issues, and reasoned judgment. Laws passed during a rush without calmer heads prevailing frequently result in disaster. When and if they are corrected, significant damage has already occurred. We deserve better.
Before we write off gun advocates, it is interesting to note that one of the citizens who rushed into the Tucson shooting scene was a young man who carried a concealed firearm. He was one of two people who wrestled Loughner to the ground. While he didn’t have to use his sidearm, he didn’t run from the chaos but toward it. Because of his actions, and those of others, the violence was stopped. Never underestimate the importance of a vigilant, prepared, and engaged citizenry.