In responding to horrific crimes such as the massacre at Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut, individuals, families, civil society, and possibly government must channel their concerns into effective measures that are consistent with the Constitution. As we try to make society safer and stronger, constitutional and complex cultural factors must be taken into consideration, and sound policy must be based on a serious study of the data and other evidence. Policymakers should avoid a rush to judgment on prescriptions that violate first principles, ignore the real root of these complex problems, or disregard careful social science research. Any federal government role must be limited and constrained by constitutional principles. The most important solutions lie at the state and local levels, in the community and within the family.
Commentary From the Blogger: In my own research, I have found that government grows as a result of our desire to fulfill our basic human needs. Abraham Maslow categorized physiological and security needs in the basic need structure of our human hierarchy of needs. Although I would disagree with the presupposition that there is a strict hierarchy, there can be little doubt that government – especially despotic government – appeals to our basic needs, and typically so through our fears that we are unable to meet them. These fears are innately human, and everyone must contend with them, but we are also capable of using our God-given reason to push past emotion-based decision-making to discover the best possible path forward to policy, or anything else in our lives for that matter.
The Heritage Foundation scholars, Malcolm and Marshall, have a comprehensive study of how we address both our fears and the need to balance out our reason and outrage. We must take the time to work through these issues and demand that our leaders do the same. If we do not, they will exploit our fears that are born out of our human desire to meet our needs. – Richard D. Baris
By John Malcolm and Jennifer A. Marshall