In the aftermath of last week’s massacre outside the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, the political actors didn’t waste a second before launching into fresh calls for gun control. “If we don’t talk about it now, then when?” asked House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Of course, the immediate days following such an event are the days when public opinion sways toward more gun control laws. But this is actually not a good time to talk gun control. I offer five reasons why this is true.
1. Legislation should be proactive, not reactive.
Congress is good at chasing shiny objects. But with healthcare, tax reform, Iran, North Korea, immigration, and border security still unresolved – and with over 200 laws still waiting on the Senate to wake up to their Constitutional duties – this is not the time for a whole new debate that will have no end. Gun control legislation should result from regular order, not disorder. To let a madman dictate when Congress acts makes no sense.
2. The shooter’s motives remain unknown.
Any response to the recent shooting must therefore be rooted in what we know from said shooting. And so far, we don’t know much. Why did he do it? What were his motives? With whom – if anybody – was he working? Was this an act of terror? As Ben Shapiro writes, “The jump to making policy based off such lack of information is stunning.”
3. How the shooter acquired his weapons is still unknown.
We know some things, but not much. Before we run off down the pathway of gun restrictions – in response to this event – we must ask ourselves, “Would this new legislation even have mattered in this case?” If new laws are not being put in place in response to this shooting, what is the rush? And before we go crazy over the man’s guns, keep in mind, he passed all FBI background checks. As Charles Cooke of National Review points out, legal automatic weapons have been used in a grand total of three crimes since 1934.
4. Making policy in response to horror is not well considered.
Good policy is good policy regardless of timing and bad policy is bad policy regardless of timing. It’s human nature – when something tragic occurs, we want to do something – anything. We heard from gun control advocates after Sandy Hook, Pulse, Virginia Tech, and Columbine. But passion does not make for good policy. We must lead with “How will this legislation actually change anything?” rather than “We just need to do something – anything!”
5. New gun control laws will have limited success – at best.
I’m still waiting to hear about the guy who says, “You know what, I was going to kill somebody and go away to prison for the rest of my life, but then I realized it was illegal to use the gun I was going to use.” Madmen don’t obey laws. That’s why they’re called “madmen.” As the NRA is quick to point out, the number of guns in America has doubled since 1993, while in that same period gun deaths have been cut in half. And where we have the most gun control – Chicago – we have the most deaths. It is interesting that the same celebrities and left-wing political leaders who scream for more gun control and less walls are the same people who have armed guards and huge walls surrounding their own mansions.