Why Does It Take A Tragedy To Get Legislators’ Attention?

Example #1:

After seven-year-old Megan Kanka was raped and killed in 1994 by a known child molester living across the street from her, the New Jersey legislature passed Megan’s Law to warn communities about sex offenders in their midst.

This was not the first time a sexual predator harmed a child.

Example #2:

In response to last year’s mauling deaths of Dorothy Sullivan and her dog Buttons by three pit bulls running loose, Virginia state Sen. R. Edward Houck is proposing a bill that would make certain kinds of dog attacks (those that result in serious human injury or in human death), a felony, reports ABC News.

Yet this wasn’t the first injury or death caused by owners who didn’t keep track of their dogs.

Example #3:

After the deaths of 14 miners this month, West Virginia lawmakers passed a bill that requires improved communications and emergency response, electronic tracking of trapped coal miners and the underground storage of additional air supplies, reports the Herald-Dispatch.

But this comes too late for the grieving families. Said Brittany Hatfield, whose father died last week: “I just wish they would have done it before and maybe I’d have my daddy here with me.”

This wasn’t the first mining accident in the state’s history or in other parts of the country.

Why does it take a tragedy for legislators to pay attention and take action?

UPDATE: The West Virginia Legislature’s passage of a new mine-safety law encourages Pennsylvania, Ohio, Utah and Kentucky to consider changes as well (via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).

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