Following the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, there have been calls from leading politicians for immediate action.
Joe Biden tweeted “How long do we let gun violence tear families apart? Enough. Congress & the WH should act now to save lives. There's no excuse for inaction.”
Hillary Clinton tweeted: “Our grief isn't enough. We can and must put politics aside, stand up to the NRA, and work together to try to stop this from happening again.”
Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut (D) said "The thoughts and prayers of politicians are cruelly hollow if they are paired with continued legislative indifference. It's time for Congress to get off its ass and do something." There were similar beliefs expressed by several of his colleagues, including Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Tim Kaine of Virginia.
And over in the House, Representative Seth Moulton of Massachusetts (D) said on a Facebook Video "I will not be standing with my colleagues in a moment of silence that just becomes an excuse for inaction in the House of Representatives today. I will work to do something about this problem so that it doesn’t happen again.”
It’s understandable that such an event would be followed by demands for swift action. But sometimes, when you’re most sure something must be done--and done right now--that’s a signal to slow things down.
While some circumstances, such as natural disasters, do call for the quickest relief possible, most legislation should be passed after serious deliberation, not in the heat of the moment.
We can’t help but be affected by events of the day. They mold our opinions. But events are over quickly, while legislation lasts.
And while some circumstances, such as natural disasters, do call for the quickest relief possible, most legislation should be passed after serious deliberation, not in the heat of the moment.
Rahm Emanuel, when he was President Obama’s incoming Chief of Staff, famously (or infamously) said “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”
All too true. But that should be taken as a warning, not a promise.
This time it’s the Democrats who are calling for action, to get things done they’ve always wanted to do but weren’t able to before. Tomorrow, it could be the Republicans who see some crisis they believe they can exploit politically.
Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail. Ironically, here is where the highly condemned “special interest groups” are most needed. Such groups can help prevent a legislature from being steamrolled, slowing down the process and forcing politicians to make their case.
This is not to say the calls for legislation we’re hearing are foolish. Gun control advocates make serious points that can’t be discounted. But any good arguments they have should be just as good a week from now when passions have at least somewhat cooled.
The saying goes “marry in haste, repent at leisure.” That’s just as true for legislation. So yes, let’s do something. But let’s also take our time.