How False Urgency Produces Stupid Gun Laws


"Connecticut has changed things," says Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.). "I don't know what we're going to do, but we're going to do something." Wolf is talking about violent video games, but his attitude is sadly common among politicians a month after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, no matter which scapegoat they prefer. Taking their cues from that vapid video featuring celebrities demanding "a plan to end gun violence," legislators seem to agree it does not really matter what they do, as long as they do it quickly.

First out of the gate is New York, where Democrats and Republicans are putting the finishing touches on a package of new gun restrictions demanded less than a week ago by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The New York Times reports that it will include a broader definition of forbidden "assault weapons" (mirroring California's) and a new, seven-round limit for magazines, which would be the strictest in the country. Marvel at the false urgency reflected in these comments by the people whom New Yorkers have charged with writing their laws:

"There's a real push and hope to do something today, but right now we're trying to make sure it's technically sound," said the Assembly majority leader, Joseph D. Morelle of Monroe County, the second highest-ranking official in the chamber. "If it goes into tomorrow, that's a possibility. But there's a sense that we'd like to do something."

Senator Jeffrey D. Klein of the Bronx, the leader of an independent faction of Democrats that has allied with Senate Republicans, said: "I think when all is said and done, we're going to pass a comprehensive gun bill today. And I think it's important and this is an issue that shows we can work together, Democrats and Republicans."

"Republicans, it's very clear, wanted harsher criminal penalties for illegal guns, which is something I agree with, but on the other hand we're also going to ban assault weapons and limit the number of rounds in a magazine," he added. "So I think putting those two things together makes it a better bill."

Senator Thomas W. Libous of Binghamton, the top deputy in the Republican caucus, called a gun control bill "inevitable," adding, "It's something that's going to go forward."

For proponents of these measures, there really is no time to lose. The longer they wait, the more time people will have to wonder whether these policies make sense on their own merits, let alone as a response to Adam Lanza's horrible crimes. People might even question whether combining knee-jerk Democratic ideas with knee-jerk Republican ideas is the sort of bipartisanship we need.

In Washington, D.C., meanwhile, Vice President Biden is supposed to make gun control recommendations to President Obama by tomorrow, having presided over a working group charged with that mission for all of three weeks. As of last Thursday, the day he finally got around to soliciting the views of gun control skeptics, Biden claimed he had reached "no conclusions," so I guess he really worked hard over the weekend. The pretense of fact finding is hard to credit, especially since Obama already has said he favors a new federal "assault weapon" ban, a limit on magazine capacity, and beefed-up background checks for gun buyers.

Gun controllers are not the only ones preying on panicky parents. Last month Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, demanded an armed guard in every school by the end of winter break to protect children against "the monsters and predators of this world" who "walk among us every day." That was LaPierre's attempt to one-up Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who had promised to introduce a new "assault weapon" ban "on the first day of the new Congress." The first day of the current session came and went the week before last, and the bill has yet to materialize, although the senator's website is still highlighting her blatantly broken promise. What is Feinstein waiting for? How many more innocents must die before she acts? Enough is enough.

Update: At a press conference today, Obama said he had received Biden's recommendations, adding,  "I expect to have a fuller presentation later in the week to give people some specifics about what I think we need to do."

NEXT: Republicans in Idaho Say It's Time to Legalize Marijuana

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  1. If there is anything more sad and pathetic than a New York Republican, I don’t know what it would be.

    1. A California Republican. I mean, if there was one…

      1. Govinator!

    2. Even upstate Republicans are rushing to get on board with this? Didn’t a number of them lose their seat over gay marriage?

      1. Libous never expresses support for the bill, just says it’s likely to pass.


  3. Primary time in NY for some of these alleged R’s might be unpleasant. If they are not allowed to at least symbolically vote nay. NY, IL, CA, MA – poster children for barf inducing politics.

    1. Let New York pass all the gun control it wants. It’s already one of the most gun-controlled states in the union.

      1. Believe me, being a libertarian in New York State, to say nothing of the City, is a depressing experience. We already have some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country, and yet all the morons stand up and cheer when a politician suggests further restrictions. I think we are really at the point where even the supporters of the status quo realize that new laws won’t make much of a difference, but they support the new laws all the same, as an expression of their feelings about guns and gun owners – the triumph of “law as emotional venting”, you could call it.

  4. We need real change, not just lip service.

    1. Change #1: OPen carry across all 50 states, shall issue CCW across all fifty states.

      1. moar gunz!

        1. Sandy Hook was a gun-free zone. Fewer guns got a lot of children killed.

    2. Change #2: Elimination of all Gun Free zones. Gun Free zones are now to be known as Victim enhancement zones. The state forces the people in these zones to be victims. It’s immoral and it should be rejected.

    3. Change #3: Any restrictions to firearms even entertained by lawmakers must apply to law enforcement and security, both private and public. Magazine restrictions, barrel length, caliber etc. The law shall be applied equally to all citizens.

    4. We need real change, not just lip service.

      A kind of PATRIOT Act for both guns and the mentally ill. I like it.

  5. Ask yourself: Does it really matter whether a magazine has 7, 10 or 30 rounds in it, given how fast it’s possible to change them out?

    1. Good point. The limit should be 1

      1. At 10:15 that morning, 37-year-old former janitor Mamoru Takuma entered the school armed with a kitchen knife and began stabbing numerous school children and teachers. He killed eight children, mostly between the ages of seven and eight, and seriously wounded thirteen other children and two teachers.[2]

        Foodies beware, we’re coming for your beloved Shun.

      2. Fuck off slaver!

    2. It is now considered “rational” and “serious” to force victims into engaging in a gunman in hand-to-hand combat during a magazine change. The notion that you might be able to defend yourself, your children or people in your midst with a firearm or like weapon, in self defence, is considered unrealistic.

      1. People in movies do it all the time. In fact, you see anemic actresses punch out massive goons and throw them through windows.

  6. I’m going to go ahead and predict that .357 is going to experience something of a renaissance.

    Just an inkling.

    1. As well as the .44 family and .45 Long Colt. Tarus and others will sell lots more shotgun pistols.

  7. 7 round limit, coming in 2014 the .75 caliber New York Special. In 2015 the New Yorkinator: ten tandem barrels, ten tandem magazines, one trigger.


    The Alabama state legislature is getting ready to fund “school resource officers” for every school in the state.

    Little tid bit from my own personal experience. My county high school in Alabama had a county sheriff deputy act as the resource offcer. Just to be clear, the man was very nice, and was often friendly with the students. He played football at Jacksonville State University, so a lot of the guys liked to watch as he was able to bench press 400 pounds in the school weight room.

    That being said, he was often under the control of the school principal, and he was often charged with helping to enforce non-criminal disciplinary action. I’m not sure that was the wisest use of him as a “resource.”

    1. Watch for the epidemic, the surge in school violence graphs as suddenly kids in all grades start getting arrested for all sorts of shit that used to be considered part of growing up.

      1. I knew of one or two kids who would throw tantrums and sling chairs across rooms. Kind of dangerous, but I’m sure they can easily be subdued with tasers, right?…right?

        1. Police shootings of students in school will go from zero to how many per year?

          1. No way to be sure. But rest assured, people will put up with the non-discipline of trigger-happy cops and institutional self-protection in the wake of an unfortunate mishap so long as they are easily swayed by false urgencies.


      Another Alabama school adds resource officers in the wake of Newtown. I guess we should spare no expense in the delusional quest for absolute safety.

  9. We need to go all ustainable. A pocket railgun that shoots out flechettes. Those aren’t regulated are they?

  10. Sort of reminds me of 9/11. See all the great legislation and progroms that came out of that in the rush to make everyone “safe”.

    1. Criminey…. too fast on submit… “programs”, not “pogroms”.

      1. Then again…

        1. Well done, sir.

  11. The False Urgency is required for gun control legislation. During an extended debate, actual voters will get to the politicians and shut it down.

    There will be hell to pay for even Democrats who vote for gun legislation – except those from the bluest of states.

  12. How False Urgency Produces Stupid Gun Laws

    fixed that for you

  13. But all of the debate and posturing and sensationalizing makes a nice distraction while the pols continue to loot the future earnings of today’s children (they’ve already raided ours). Think of the children my ass.

  14. Nice Alt-Text

  15. “To be seen to be doing something” remains the raison d’etre of politicians.

    (And “Something must be done. This is something. This must be done”.)

  16. How False Urgency Produces Stupid Gun Laws


  17. lol, silly laws are fgor honest folk lol.

  18. This should be retitled, as, “How False Urgency Creates Destructive Political Careers.” By giving Dianne Feinstein a leg up back in the 1970s, Twinkie-addled Dan White unintentionally took dead aim at the heart of America.

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