Some of you may recognize Punctuated Equilibrium as an evolutionary term. That is where it began.
The theory states that living organisms exist for long periods of time without much change. Things may change slightly, but that is just to keep a balance in the ecosystem. On occasion, however, catastrophes impact the ecosystem and cause it to lose stability. When this happens dramatic changes must occur in order to bring things back to stasis. Let’s say for example a giant asteroid strikes off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula and the resulting impact kills off every living creature larger than a field mouse. The ecosystem is way out of balance, so in order to restore it there has to be evolutionary changes for other living creatures to thrive and multiply and fill the vacant void – as the theory goes anyway.
I mention this only because it has been adapted to the policy world as well. In the past we have held a pretty even level of policy, but on occasion an event happens that turns things upside-down and new dramatic policies fill the hole in order to make things right with the world again. Let’s look at nuclear power for a moment. In the 1950s, nuclear power was promoted as the end all and be all of the future for energy needs. Everything from your curling iron to your automobile was going to run off power generated by a nuclear reaction at your local power plant. For two decades this notion was right with the world, but then the Three-Mile-Island, or TMI, accident occurred.
In 1979 a nuclear cascade event at the TMI plant in Pennsylvania got out of control and a meltdown occurred. After that event, you couldn’t get a permit to build a nuclear plant in the United States even if you had pictures of Bill Clinton, an intern, and a cigar in the Oval office. TMI took our stability in policy towards nuclear power and jolted it. Americans have yet to rethink the notion of nuclear energy, even though places like France do a great job of providing about 80% of their energy needs from nuclear sources safely.
I have to wonder, with the closeness of events at the movie theater in Colorado, shootings in malls in Oregon and Wisconsin, and now the events in Connecticut, will these be punctuated events that turn our collective conviction of gun ownership rights on its head? Will politicians find a way to subvert our Second Amendment? Will they create laws and policies that destroy our inalienable right to self-defense because of these unstoppable events? The only way we can avoid politicians getting involved in stripping us of our rights is if the stability is returned to the public arena. If not, we can kiss our A-Rs good-bye.