When Tragedies Pass Laws

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 12 2011 11:15 AM

When Tragedies Pass Laws

I find the debate over Sarah Palin's response to Arizona tragedy incredibly boring, except as starting point for some fun cheap jokes. More interesting, definitely, are the pieces of legislation that are being introduced in response to the shooting. In Arizona, as I've reported -- Evan McMorris-Santoro has more -- the tragedy has probably helped the cause of pro-gun rights legislation in the state. It has kickstarted debate in Washington on two or three bills -- a ban on high-capacity magazines, expanding the laws banning threats against the president and vice president to all federal officials, and a proposal for a 1000-foot zone around federal officials in which no guns are allowed.

It's worth noting how mundane this is. As gun control advocates have been pointing out, trying to convince skeptics like me that there's any chance for their legislation in a Republican Congress, all big gun control measures have come in response to tragedies. Gun crimes are not alone in their power to inspire legislation. Most Arizona observes agree that the state's 2010 immigration law was passed in response to the murder of a rancher, Rob Krantz. That was the post made in a widely-circulated letter from Arizona State Sen. Sylvia Allen .

Advertisement

I want to explain SB 1070 which I voted for and was just signed by Governor Jan Brewer.Rancher Rob Krantz was murdered by the drug cartel on his ranch a month ago. I participated in a senate hearing two weeks ago on the border violence; here are just some of the highlights from those who testified.

Again, mundane but true -- horrific tragedies create the openings for legislation. The PATRIOT Act consisted, in large part, of provisions that were politically unworkable until 9/11 make them seem necessary; or, I guess, made voters so scared that they'd back anything. Liberals who obsess over the rhetoric of conservatives are, ironically, closing the window they might -- might! -- have for introducing and passing limited gun control legislation.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

The World’s Politest Protesters

The Occupy Central demonstrators are courteous. That’s actually what makes them so dangerous.

The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:58 PM The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

The Feds Have Declared War on New Privacy Measures From Apple and Google

These “Dark” Lego Masterpieces Are Delightful and Evocative

Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Europe’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celebrity Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 6:39 PM Spoiler Special: Transparent
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?