When pit bull owners and pro-pit bull lobbying groups speak to the media, such as lobbyist Ledy VanKavage of Best Friends, they often use the term “knee-jerk reaction” to describe the actions of a municipality or institution after it has adopted a pit bull ordinance. Gail Golab of the American Veterinary Medicine Association frequently uses the term as well. A Google News Archive search shows the term in use since 1985.

The ordinance would require pit bull owners to register their dogs with the city , … called the ordinance a “knee jerk reaction” to problems in other … –1985
… Daily News recent articles on pit bull attacks have been quite sensational and have … knee-jerk hysterical reaction that the media has recently… – 1987
“He’s part Labrador and part pit bull,” says owner Ron Anderson, … ”The bottom line is that the ordinance is kind of a knee- jerk reaction… – 1989