Yesterday’s tragedy in Connecticut, like other similar tragedies before it, calls to mind a widespread and persistent tendency to assume that we can prevent every “avoidable” tragedy by passing yet another law. Sad to say, no law will effectively deter every possible crime in advance. Although activists and politicians alike are loath to admit it, in this life there can be no such thing as defeating terrorism outright, ending violence against women (or men), eliminating child abuse, etc. The most we can expect to do is to apply the appropriate penalties when the law is violated, while remaining thankful for the deterrent effect the law has undoubtedly had on other would-be criminals whose evil imaginations will forever remain hidden from us. It is best, after such carnage, to avoid the temptation to score political points and simply allow ourselves to mourn the loss of so many innocent lives and to pray for God’s mercy.

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