Following a tragedy like the Newtown shootings, politicians tend to act first, think later. But the consequences of rushing legislation can be worse than doing nothing.
Consider New York, which just passed sweeping new gun control laws in a mad dash. When those laws take effect in March, they will make outlaws of many New York police officers, whose standard-issue weapons include gun magazines exceeding the new limit. The new law makes magazines with more than seven rounds illegal. No exceptions are allowed for police, who typically carry handguns with a 15-round capacity.
New York state Sen. Eric Adams has vowed to amend the law to address this problem, telling WABC news, “You can't give more ammo to the criminals.” That this only now occurs to New York politicians isn't encouraging.
In Oklahoma, the rush to act may run the other direction with pro-gun lawmakers touting measures that may be overly broad, poorly designed or even constitutionally debatable. After the recent filing deadline, state lawmakers had submitted roughly 50 measures regarding firearm rights in some fashion.
Some of those are likely good ideas, but not all. We're skeptical that Senate Bill 548, by state Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, would withstand a court challenge. It declares federal gun laws and regulations to be “invalid” and “considered null and void” in Oklahoma. If something like federal gun registration actually passed Congress — unlikely — opponents could and should challenge it in federal court. However, if the courts uphold those laws, Senate Bill 548 would do little but generate legal bills for the state, which doesn't benefit Oklahomans or increase their rights.
Gun policies should attack the criminal activity we all oppose without infringing on the rights of the law-abiding. To achieve that goal, it's more important for lawmakers to carefully craft legislation than to Do Something Now!