Regulate Guns…..or Not?

One of the fastest reactions to any mass shooting that captivates the national press is to round up all the guns and take them out of the hands of individuals.  The pro-gun ownership lobby immediately points to the Third Reich, China and Russia and we know how well that worked out for individual rights.

Gun control advocates detest the second amendment.  What is interesting is that in general, they track more liberal.  Liberals tend to hate the Bill of Rights when it doesn’t match up to their immediate agenda.  For example, socialist Jan Schakowsky and her comments about the “tenthers”.

Before we legislate, I’d urge the country to take a step back for a moment.  Why?  Generally, when we legislate quickly, we get really bad legislation.  I’d offer up three examples unrelated to gun control.

First, Sarbanes-Oxley.  SarBox was a response to the Enron accounting fraud.  The only accomplishment of SarBox was it screwed up the economic incentives around companies going public.  Because less companies go public, the general public has less of a chance to invest in younger companies and try and grow their wealth.  SarBox favors the rich.  It does nothing to discipline companies or corporate executives.  Accounting fraud still exists. Bad execs still rip off customers. See Jon Corzine and MF Global.

The second example I’d proffer is The Patriot Act.  The act was a response to the 9/11 terror attacks.  Instead of curbing terror, it has been used to pry into the intimacies of American citizens.  We gave up a large measure of our freedom when the act was passed.  The Patriot Act also was used by President Bush to expand Presidential power, Constitution be damned.  Obama has made Bush look like a part timer when it comes to Presidential power expansion.   The most tangible evidence of the act is the division of Homeland Security.  We should have taken a step back in 2001 and thought really hard about how to curb terrorism.  The Patriot Act was too far reaching.

The last bit of legislation that I would offer is Dodd-Frank.  It hasn’t done anything for the banking industry.  But it certainly has given the government more power over the finances of constituents.  The act was a response to the financial crisis.  It creates a lot of poor economic incentives.  Already, community banking and middle market banking profits are under pressure.  This limits competition and has raised the cost of banking for people.  D-F is starting to create incentives that cause money to flee public markets, and go to private markets.  Unless you have the network to break into the private market, you are out of luck.  It raises the costs of capital for business, which has a detrimental effect on job growth and GDP.

No doubt, the framers of the Constitution didn’t envision the weapons that we have today.  But that doesn’t matter.  Original principles are original.  We need to stick by them and legislate in the spirit of those original ideas.  When we go off that path, bad things happen.

The actions of crazed gunners killing innocents is reprehensible and there are no words anyone can say or write to comfort the people who lost someone.  There is no way to heal the stain that those miscreants have put on society.  But, quick legislation won’t do anything.  If experience is a guide, it will make things worse because people will have a false sense of security.


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