Addiction to firearm regulation
Just had a thought, based on the previous entry.
In my experience, most legislation follows one of two courses: (1) after enactment, it endures without much change for decades. Its advocates got what they wanted; from there on they bring test cases to interpret or enforce it. National Environmental Protection Act, Administrative Procedure Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act would be laws of this type that we handled at Interior. Alternately, (2) the law is tinkered with in minor ways. The Endangered Species Act falls into this class, with the tinkering generally being aimed at loosening it.
Firearm regulations are entirely different. No matter how much is enacted, its political proponents insist that they must have more. As I noted in the previous post, even New York and Massachusetts politicians want more, more. If the laws are failing, it just proves they must be made nationwide, not that something is wrong with the approach.
Given this, can we fairly speak of an addiction to firearms regulation? The behavioral pattern matches the most severe chemical addictions. There is no such thing as enough. Whatever is obtained soon ceases to satisfy iIn chemical addiction, because the body compensates by creating more natural depressants or stimulants, in legislation, because crime continues or rises). The concept of "enough" does not even exist. I think Dave Kopel once pointed out to me that no antigun organization has ever laid out a real platform -- "this is what we want, and if we get it, we'll be satisfied and stop there."
The only parallel I can think of is Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which has really won all that they sought (.08, no drinking under 21, stiff sanctions, severe punishment for repeat offenders), but keeps coming for more action. Even there, most of their recent push is for more enforcement and stiffer sanctions, wanting roving checkpoints and license plate seizures -- they don't seem to be pushing for lowering the level still farther, or raising the drinking age to 25, or things like that.
What could we regard as symptoms of a legislative addiction? I'd suggest:
1. No level of regulation is "enough."
2. That a problem continues despite regulation does not prompt an examination of whether the regulation itself is ineffective, but only the claim that it is insufficient. Logically, there will be situations where the legislation is potentially effective, but insufficient. The key here is that the proponents of it are incapable of examining it in this light: the thought that it is ineffective is literally inconceivable. Evidence to the contrary is simply ignored. They MUST HAVE MORE.
3. As a consequence of 1 and 2, the proponents lack a true platform. They have at best a time-bound agenda of what they think they might get in the near future.
4. If the addiction cannot be fed well, anything will suffice, even if it has no real impact ("cop-killer bullets," "assault weapons").
5. The addiction must be fed, even in the face of suggestions that it is harmful. The loss of both houses to the GOP, liberal support despite harm to other liberal objectives such as civil liberties, the tendency of opponents to counter-legislate with stiffer penalties and even the death penalty, etc. These consequences, which would meet with proponents' strong objections if they came about in isolation, are acceptable costs if the addiction can be fed.
[Guy Smith adds, in a comment stopped for some reason by the spam filter:
I'm not sure it is an "addiction", but more like self reinforcing diagnosis.
Contrast gun control logic with "medicine" as practiced by barber doctors of medieval times. If you were ill and went to the barber, they would let some blood. The loss of blood made you feel woozy, so to cure this condition they would ... let some more blood. The resulting drop in blood pressure would make you nauseous and lethargic, so the learned barber would ... let some more blood.
Repeat until the patient dies from "vile vapors" or some other contrived explanation.
The modern scenario is one where the unintended consequence -- emboldened criminals, street level violence, hot home invasions -- bring calls for yet more gun control ... repeat until we look like the U.K.]