have been thinking recently in light of the BP spill and what's going to come after it about bad cases and bad laws. Here are three: 1) Columbine school shooting. Group of teenagers shot up their school, killing several before killing themselves. Result: Assault Weapons Ban. The AWB ran from 1994 to 2004 and banned manufacture of magazines over 10 rounds and certain "assault weapons" (ill defined) with certain features. The result of the law was that "pre ban" items went for many times their actual value (I remember selling hi cap Glock mags for $100. After the ban they were $25). It did not prevent any school shooting thereafter and indeed there were several after Columbine. And since "assault weapons" (however defined) did not account for many crimes, the restriction did not have any effect on crime. Indeed, crime rates fell after the ban ended. 2) Enron. Executives defrauded stock holders by cooking the books. Result: Sarbanes-Oxley. Sarbanes Oxley mandates certain types of accounting and puts executives at criminal risk for mis-statements in corporate reporting forms. The result has been to increase tremendously the costs of compliance such that many small companies have not gone public, and others have had LBO's and gone private. Additionally IPOs have been floated in other countries increasingly with fewer restrictions, costing the U.S. money. Certainly there have been no frauds prevented, as Madoff, AIG, and other scandals have developed. 3) BP. Deep water drilling platform explodes and spews oil from well into the ocean. Result: Ban on off shore drilling. Other laws in the pipe line. I don't know how many off shore wells have been drilled and have functioned just fine over the last 30 years. I would guess lots. But drilling--any industrial activity--entails risk and the record of the oil industry has been excellent. So one has to ask, how will shutting down off shore drilling really help anything? It will cost many many jobs at a time of high unemployment. It will do nothing to stop the present disaster and only has a slight chance of stopping any future disaster. If we eliminate all risk then we also eliminate any possible benefit from the activity. At that point we all need to stay home in bed. I am sure there are many many other examples. I think the solution is to make a 6 month moratorium on laws after any event.