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When is Enough?
April 18, 2015
Arvin Michel

I read an interesting article in the Denver Post the other day. The State Legislature was considering a bill to increase the current size of magazines for semi-automatic weapons from the present 15 rounds to 30 rounds. Jon Caldera of the Independence Institute favored the bill and Dudley Brown of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners opposed the bill saying there should be no limit. Jon Caldera said that a 30 round magazine was basically a standard and 99% of magazines would automatically be within that limit.
I am not going to discuss the issue itself but I am interested in the 99% statement, and for my purposes I am assuming this number to be accurate. The thought that occurred to me was, “Why are we enacting laws that affect only 1% of the citizenry, if that many, since potential criminals would care less if there was a legal limit?” Is the law necessary if there is 99% compliance to the legislators’ wishes even without the law? How many laws do we have on the books that fall into this same categorization?
I do have to state that I’m not considering all laws especially felonious laws such as murder which apply to a very small part of the population. My interest is more in the misdemeanor arena.
I once asked a traffic engineer how they set speed limits on new roads or streets. He said that a method he liked was to initially not put up speed limit signs. He would then monitor the average speeds of motorists and set the speed limit accordingly. Most people would drive at a comfortable speed which he considered to be a safe speed since most motorists would naturally operate in that mode. Of course the result would be that very few speeding tickets would be written. Sounds like a “Win-Win” unless the object would be to maximize revenue. Again, the law would adhere to a natural standard.
How about “red-light” cameras? Do they always catch someone near the end of a long line of cars? If so, maybe the timing on the traffic light needs to be adjusted. Couldn’t these cameras be used to try and reduce the number of traffic tickets written? That would be a worthy goal and perhaps another unneeded law could be removed from the books.
Zoning laws are a likely target for my discussion. These can be very detailed and tightly controlled or they can be very flexible. Most, if not all, cities and counties have Boards of Adjustment to take care of necessary exceptions to zoning law. Why not monitor the cases before the Board of Adjustment with the goal in mind of reducing their work by revising the zoning laws? If they had almost nothing to do, then it would seem that the zoning regulations would fit the desires of the citizenry. Does that make sense?
There has been a lot of emphasis placed on regulations related to the marijuana industry. Is there sufficient data available to justify all the regulations passed thus far? Or is there a lot of reaction based on the fear that there might be a need for a lot of regulation? There is no doubt that there could be problems but are we arriving at solutions before the problems are defined?
Legislators are limited on the number of bills they can submit in each session. How many legislators submit the maximum and how many submit the minimum? How many are of the type discussed earlier in that they have very little effect on the community? Do the legislators know how many citizens would be affected by the bills they submit? Is the cost per incident evaluated? This is an example of how quality may be inversely related to quantity.
I think a quote from Groucho Marx applies very well to this discussion. “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.” If we find trouble everywhere why can’t we diagnose it correctly and apply the right remedies if any are needed at all? We should at least try.

 

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