Sunsetting Laws

I’ve added a countdown to the Expiration of the ’94 Assault Weapon Ban in my sidebar on the main page. Right now, it looks like the AWB will be allowed to sunset, and that is a good thing. Passing the ban was an important factor in the Democratic loss of Congress in 1996. The AWB shows a major flaw in the gun-grabbers thinking, in that it bans weapons based on looks rather than any objective safety standpoint. I’ve written on this before.

That isn’t the point of this post. The point of this post is that Sunset clauses are our friend in liberty. Government never voluntarily repeals anything. The best that you can hope for is that the impetus that allowed them to pass a new regulation passes. If you were smart, you got someone to put a sunset clause on the bill, and they won’t be able to renew it. The AWB was a bad idea 10 years ago when it was passed. We threw out the rascals that passed it, but the law stayed. It was too much of a hot potato to scrounge up the will to get rid of it. It is much, much easier to just let it go its natural course. Without a sunset clause, that natural course is to last forever. With the clause, that natural course is to fade away without even a whimper.

There is another piece of controversial legislation that also includes a sunset clause. Congress is learning — you can let your opposition pass a bill, because as long as you got a sunset clause in, you haven’t lost yet. For the Patriot Act, I’m divided. I know that it has been abused, but it hasn’t been abused widely. Frankly, we are in a state of war. Right now, I am in favor of renewing the act — but I want another short sunset clause added. Four years would be acceptable — two years is better. This is an issue that we must continue to revisit. I support giving the FBI access to these tools, but I don’t support giving them the tools themselves. Yes, there is still a fight to be fought, but you are only going to be allowed to fight the fight we set you out on.

Bush proposed a constitutional amendment on defining marriage. Forget that. The next amendment we need is a mandatory sunset clause. If not otherwise stated, all acts of Congress should sunset in 10 years. All. You want to pass an Enviro-Regulation? Plan to keep passing it. You want more regulations on auto-makers? You are going to have to keep at it. Let’s face it — Congressmen can only spend so much time voting. They still have to have time to pull in graft and worship Satan. Eventually, some of this stuff is going to have to slip to the wayside just because they don’t have time to vote it back in. That would be one of the best step towards smaller government that we can make.

7 Comments

  1. SayUncle says:

    10 years? I’d say 3 🙂

  2. Phelps says:

    Hey, I’m talking about something that at least has a snowball’s chance in hell of happening in the next 50 years. I reckon I’ll just wait until the rebellion happens and save it for the constitutional convention anyways.

  3. Sneakeasy's Joint says:

    11 Pieces Worth Your Time.

    The 11 blogs I encourage you to visit in this entry were among the top 10 referrers in my February Statistics, as mentioned in an earlier entry. I have chosen a recent piece from each that I feel is worth…

  4. Sneakeasy's Joint says:

    11 Pieces Worth Your Time.

    The 11 blogs I encourage you to visit in this entry were among the top 10 referrers in my February Statistics, as mentioned in an earlier entry. I have chosen a recent piece from each that I feel is worth…

  5. Say Uncle says:

    Great Minds or something

    Phelps is advocating something I’ve proposed before: All laws passed should have inherent sunset provisions. It should be an amendment….

  6. Harvey says:

    Although the idea has its appealing side, it would have a tendency to make it more difficult to do long-range planning. Look at the tax cuts Bush passed. They may or may not disappear shortly after finally being completely phased in. That kinda stuff plays hell with financial planning.

    On the other hand, considering how many stupid laws would get sunsetted too, and the fact that about 95% of laws shouldn’t have been passed in the first place, it’s probably worth it.

  7. Phelps says:

    Tax cuts hell. I’m talking about putting a sunset cluase on the the tax code.