1. The crocodile tears. This includes the False Moment of National Unity, during which people proclaim that events like this bring us together, even as they sharpen their partisan knives for the next step.
2. The blood libel. With no data, motive is assigned to some conservative group or belief. This proves false 100% of the time, but like a tattoo, the accusation can never be entirely removed.
3. The Rorschach test. Every politician and pundit on earth pens an editorial explaining how this one isolated event has a much broader meaning that proves everything he’s been saying for the last 20 years.
4. Something Must Be Done. A national debate ensues on how to make sure that something like this never happens again. This event was a wake-up call and a game-changer. Everything must be on the table. We must not allow a 200-year-old piece of parchment to prevent us from Acting Right Away.
5. Suzy’s Law. Congress vomits forth a bipartisan bill that no member dare vote against. For precisely that reason, the bill includes a litany of unrelated pork and policy for both parties that could never otherwise pass. In exchange for a few billion dollars and a bit of your liberty, the president, surrounded by beaming legislators, offers a few cloying words about “what this town can do when people put their differences aside” and ostentatiously signs “Suzy’s Law”, a new set of rules that, had they been in place before the tragedy, would have made absolutely no difference.
Though it appears items 1 & 2 reversed this go-around, Jeff Bonwick, take a bow…
UPDATE: Alternately, (5a): a bill that will probably get passed on its merits gets a gun control rider amendment.