You would not be surprised to hear that a widget company would need to make widgets in order to justify its existence.   Likewise, local, state, and federal legislators need to keep legislating in order to justify their existence to their constituents.   Year after year more and more laws are enacted until, eventually, every facet of our lives will be controlled by one law or another.   There is no such thing as overkill when it comes to dreaming up laws for any and all reasons.

There are now laws that are named for a particular victim or situation and one starts to feel that, eventually, we will all have a law named after us based on some travesty that has befallen us.   I am not suggesting that some of these laws don’t serve a valid and useful purpose, but, I am suggesting that not all problems with our society can be solved simply by passing more laws, particularly, laws created as a knee jerk reaction to the public’s emotional response to one tragic event.  It just becomes an expedient and illusionary fix.

More importantly, the reasons why some people do the terrible things they do can’t be adequately explained and will not change no matter how many new laws are enacted.   For example, in response to the shooting in Tucson, Arizona all we have heard is what can we learn from this episode?   Maybe, all we can learn is that sometimes bad people do bad things to other people.  When a national tragedy like this happens, there always seems to be a rush to pass more laws in the belief that it may prevent this from happening again.   We all breathe a sigh of relief that we have legislated this kind of problem away until it happens again and then, of course, we will pass more laws.

Every society needs laws to put everyone on notice as to the basic rules deemed necessary to make that society function properly.   Where I think we have gone wrong is that we feel laws should be used as some sort of panacea to appease the emotions of the public.   Our legislators have come to believe that if something happens that upsets a vocal segment of their constituents, they must pass a law not necessarily to solve a problem but simply to keep their constituents happy.   Usually, there are already sufficient laws on the books to cover the situation but nothing is more cathartic to the public and more conducive to job security for politicians than passing another law.

Ultimately, our laws should be enacted to address real problems and for good reasons and not just to keep our legislators in the business of placating the public.