With the latest school shooting, all humane people are expected to jump up and do something to stop the next shooting. The most popular response among media pundits and national policymakers right now is an expansion of the various prohibitions now in place against guns.
For anyone familiar with the history of prohibitions on inanimate objects, however, these appeals to prohibition as a “common sense” solution are rather less convincing.
Americans and others have tried a wide variety of similar prohibitions before, and with mixed results at best. Nowadays, prohibitions on drugs are in decline as states continue to unravel prohibitions of the past and make the nature of prohibition less drastic and less punitive. And, of course, the prohibition of alcohol has been dead for decades.
The prohibitions of old have been deemed failures. But fortunately for prohibitionists, there’s a fashionable form of modern prohibition that won’t go away.