There’s nothing like the knee jerk reaction of a politician to bring forth shallow thinking and poor legislation in reaction to most anything. Sometimes it seems they are in competition to pander to the least common denominator of thoughtless emotional reactionaries among us.
Legislation can have long term and unintended consequences. Take for example the reaction to a truck accident on Route 95 that resulted in the removal of interstate tolls. Now the same legislators are spending a great deal of time and effort debating the placement of gateway tolls on the very same highway.
For years our legislators debated the death penalty just when they seem to have the votes to eliminate that punishment we had the Cheshire home invasion crime. Suddenly some of those staunch supporters were swayed by the heinous event to delay the change for a year to exempt the perpetrators and leave them eligible for the death penalty. How would those same legislators react to the Newtown shooting if the perpetrator were captured, would they suddenly be calling for the death penalty?
Today we have Democratic State Representative Stephen Dargan reacting to the tragedy in Newtown. Mr. Dargan is not a new legislator he was first elected in 1990 so he should have some understanding about the importance of his actions. His latest knee jerk proposal is to reverse a 20-year old decision by state lawmakers to exempt personal and confidential information concerning gun ownership from exposure under the state’s Freedom of Information Act. This would allow the name and address of every gun owner to be published.
Representative Dargan said he his intention was not to cause acrimony between citizens it was, to quote Mr. Dargan “to get a broader discussion going on gun issues and mental health in the state”. The proposal has nothing to do with mental health unless of course we are going to talk about the mental health of Mr. Dargan. Planning for a broader discussion while sponsoring a narrow, ill thought, poorly conceived bill for consideration is irrational, disingenuous or incompetent and not what Connecticut needs.
His proposal is as rational as a published list to include the name and home address of each State Legislator with an asterisk to indicate gun ownership for family protection or a target to indicate the occupants are not protected.
His same irrational thinking could be extended to heroin. In the name of protecting every neighborhood from the actions of drug induced crime we could publish the names of every person legally using heroin. Oh, so you think that would make those homes, many of which are occupied by our weakest elderly citizens, targets for criminal drug addicts?
Knee jerk legislation is dangerous, emotions are not the seeds of wise legislation and pandering is no replacement for rational thinking. Mr. Dargan should stop and THINK about the consequences and logical extensions to his proposals before he takes action. Knee jerk headlines may provide him with political exposure to enhance his career but they will do little toward the public safety for the citizens of Connecticut.