Efforts to push legislation through while emotions are high mean that the legislation doesn't get the kind of scrutiny that legislation is supposed to get.

After the state of New York passed its far-reaching and poorly thought out post-Newtown gun law with unseemly haste, I suggested that we might need a waiting period for laws more than for guns. After all, the idea behind waiting periods for guns was that people might get overexcited and do something rash, but would "cool off" if they had to wait a few days before getting their hands on a dangerous instrument. But laws are dangerous instruments, too, and legislators seem highly prone to sudden fits of hysteria.
Suddenly, I'm hearing agreement with this idea from an unlikely source -- New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a tireless champion of gun restrictions. The 7-round magazine restriction that was a major feature of the New York law turns out to be unworkable and to make the state's police (who aren't exempted from the law's coverage) criminals if they carry their usual Glocks.
Bloomberg observed: "We just got to start to thinking a little bit more about the implications of things before we rush to legislate and rush to legislate everything."
Well, yes. Of course, it's a bit rich to hear this from Bloomberg, who actually had PR agents on call waiting for a mass shootingso that he could push for gun control while emotions were high. The reason why politicians want to move legislation while emotions are high is that emotions cloud people's thinking and make them easy to manipulate.
The problem, of course, is that emotions also cloud politicians' thinking, and efforts to push legislation through while emotions are high also mean that the legislation doesn't get the kind of scrutiny that legislation is supposed to get. The result, typically, is bad legislation: Not only legislation that does things the public wouldn't necessarily support if there were time for reflection, but also legislation that doesn't even do what it's supposed to do. Had New York's governor Andrew Cuomo not tried to push the bill through so fast -- he even issued a "message of necessity" that waived the three-day waiting period that would otherwise have applied -- the problems might have been discovered. But he was acting in haste and haste makes waste.
Were I a member of the New York legislature, I'd be doing what I could to make the process of fixing these problems as painful and embarrassing for Cuomo and the law's other supporters as I could, in the hopes that it would encourage them to be less hasty in the future. But it's not as if New York is the only offender.
The "Affordable Care Act," better known as ObamaCare, was also rushed through. As then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously remarked, Congress had to "pass the bill so you can find out what's in it, away from the fog of controversy."
Well, people have found out what's in it, and ObamaCare is still highly unpopular. It would have been better if the public had found out what was in it before it passed.
Except, of course, that then it probably wouldn't have passed at all. Politicians rush bills through and keep voters guessing at the details because they fear that if they don't, they won't be able to pass what they want. It's a scam, disguised as compassion.
But given that even Mike Bloomberg thinks that New York might have taken things a bit more deliberately, maybe the next time politicians want to rush a bill through without sufficient deliberation others will have the fortitude to slow things down, read the bill and inform the public.
Well, I can hope, can't I?
Glenn Harlan Reynolds is a professor of law at the University of Tennessee. He blogs at InstaPundit.com.