by Michael Maharrey

And the things that we fear are a weapon to be held against us… The Weapon, Neil Peart, Rush

Rahm Emanuel had the gall to say it out loud, but the principle seems to exist inside the skull of virtually every politician on the planet, “ you don’t ever want a crisis to go to waste.”

Less than 48 hours after a man gunned down Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the politicians quickly went to work capitalizing on this horrible act.

Rep. Robert Brady, D-Pa., announced Monday that he plans to introduce legislation making it a federal crime to use symbols “that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a Member of Congress or federal official.”

“The rhetoric is just ramped up so negatively, so high, that we have got to shut this down,” Brady said during a CNN interview.

While Brady shuts down expression,  Rep. Carolyn McCarthy seized on the shooting to advance her pet cause: gun control. The New York Democrat wants Congress to ban high capacity ammunition clips for handguns. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.) says he was prepared to introduce a similar bill in the Senate.

“The only reason to have 33 bullets loaded in a handgun is to kill a lot of people very quickly,” Lautenberg said in a statement. “These high-capacity clips simply should not be on the market.”

It’s easy to scream, “We have to do something!” and demand immediate action when caught up in the emotion of a national tragedy. But that reaction roots itself in fear. And as Peart wrote, fear serves as a weapon far deadlier than any 33 bullet clip.

Alexander Hamilton warned in Federalist No. 8 that people will willingly hand over their liberties when staring into terror’s face.

“To be more safe, they at length become willing to run the risk of being less free.”

Politicians understand this and use it to their advantage, twisting tragedy into opportunities to consolidate power and advance their causes.

Keeping this in mind, perhaps we should slow down for a moment – pause in the heat of our emotion and consider Benjamin Franklin’s admonishment.

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Amazingly, a voice of sanity comes from a man who truly suffered a loss in this tragedy.

John Green’s 9-year-old daughter died Saturday. Christina-Taylor Green was born on 9-11 and was the only girl on an all boy baseball team, intelligent and interested in the political process.

As the father of a daughter, I can’t even fathom John’s suffering. If anybody has a right to lash out and make demands, he does.

But he refuses to bow to fear.

“In a free society, we’re going to be subjected to people like this, but I prefer that to the alternative,” he said.

Mike Maharrey