Things that shouldn’t have to be

Actions taken by Congress fall into two broad categories: “Things Congress should do” and “Things Congress shouldn’t do”. There are, of course, various sub-categories to each. Under “Things Congress should do” is the sub-category “Things Congress shouldn’t have to do”. The Mica Amendment to the 2012 defense authorization bill is an example of something Congress shouldn’t have to do. In this case, Congress shouldn’t have to pass a law saying that it’s OK for American troops serving in combat areas to defend themselves against hostile action. Congress shouldn’t have to pass a bill that directs the Secretary of Defense to “ensure that the rules of engagement applicable to members of the armed forces assigned to duty in any hostile fire area … fully protect the members’ right to bear arms; and authorize the members to fully defend themselves from hostile actions.” But Congress did, in fact, have to pass just such a law.