When tragedy strikes, lawmakers predictably capitalize on the moment to make laws intended to prevent similar events. But such reflexive legislation is all too often based more on emotion surrounding unusual circumstances than it is upon sound logic and philosophical foundations.

Years ago, swayed by incessant media reports about the environment, I was card-carrying Sierra Club member urging the government to “do something” to steer society toward “green” energy. An older brother heard me out, and politely disagreed. He had done his homework and countered my claims with hard data.

Not wanting to admit I was wrong, I did my own research. To my surprise, I learned that he was right; regardless of how good its intentions might be, the government’s push to mothball nuclear and hydrocarbon fuels in favor of solar and wind would be catastrophic both in terms of environmental impact and human suffering. Reaching this understanding required admitting to myself that I had been letting others manipulate my emotions to control my thinking.

And so, I urge Mainers to beware the gun control laws being pushed in response to the tragic shootings in Lewiston last October. If these laws had existed at the time, most would have changed nothing.

It is bad enough when new laws don’t solve problems; it is unacceptable when they amount to an incremental abdication of liberty that — though dearly bought — is all too easy to fritter away in moments of strong emotion.

The road to authoritarianism is paved with good intentions.

Anthony Shostak, Greene

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