L. Neil Smith's

Number 2, November, 1995

The Infamous 349

By John Taylor

Exclusive to The Libertarian Enterprise

         On October 1, 1995, in my state of residence, 349 new laws went into effect, having been passed in the previous legislative session.
         Three hundred and forty nine. And our legislature isn't even in session year-round. Think what they could do with a little more time.
         If we were just starting out in this statehood thing, I might understand. After all, a brand new state would require lots of shiny new laws to govern the conduct of its citizens, now wouldn't it?
         But heck, we're one of the 13 original comedies -- er, colonies. If we had passed, on average, 349 laws per year since independence -- come to think of it, we probably have -- we'd have well over 75,000 laws on the books by now, assuming none of them were repealed. (A safe assumption if ever there was one.)
         It's hard to believe with all those laws already on the books that we managed to overlook for so long 349 areas of our lives that so desperately needed governmental intervention and regulation.
         One of our new laws requires bicyclists to wear helmets. One requires students to be fully vaccinated or they won't be allowed in school. One law mandates a one year suspension for any student bringing a gun to school.
         Now, I certainly don't have a problem with bicyclists choosing to wear helmets. In my youth, I administered first aid to a motorcyclist who had buried his bike into the front end of a car while he himself -- helmetless, as was the custom in those days -- continued on forward to an inevitable rendezvous between his skull and a concrete curb. (The last I heard, he had not only survived, but had fully recovered.) Memories like that would certainly make me an advocate for mandatory helmet laws, if anything would, wouldn't they?
         Well, actually, no.
         When I was in college, I rode a motorcycle helmetless, and I've never worn a bicycle helmet in my life. Yet here I am, alive, well, and presumably possessed of a fully functional brain, traumatized only by years of public education.
         "Well, you were lucky", say my many insufferable critics.
         Yes, that's precisely the point! I've dumped a motorcycle on- and off-road, and had one or two fairly nasty bicycle accidents, but I was lucky. Life is full of risks, some manageable, some not. How one chooses to live, surrounded by those risks and countless others, is a decision that must ultimately be left up to the individual in that circumstance, at that time.
         Nor do I have a problem with parents choosing to have their children vaccinated. Goodness knows, children couldn't survive before vaccines were developed, and vaccination has eradicated childhood illness, right? Oops, I guess that's not quite true. It seems that there is substantial evidence that mass immunization has not proved effective in eradicating childhood diseases, that there are significant downside risks (both short term and long term) to vaccination which are minimized -- even covered up -- by health professionals, and that what we believe we know about vaccination doesn't square with all of the facts.
         Now some of us have run into "bad science" in other areas, from health professionals playing politics with grant monies. Lately, for example, some doctors have been attempting to establish firearms as a public health hazard. [For a resource that is extremely effective at debunking this particular brand of weird science, I recommend Doctors for Integrity in Policy Research, Inc.; Edgar A. Suter MD, National Chair; 5201 Norris Canyon Road - Suite 140; San Ramon, CA 94583; 510-277-1283 fax; EdgarSuter@aol.com e-mail]
         We have seen flawed studies -- studies that were either grossly ignorant or willfully false -- paraded in front of the American public, fronted by the implied assertion that if a doctor says it, well then it must be true. After all, they have that 'Hypocritical Oath' thing, don't they? Well, the next time a doctor says that guns are a public health hazard, ask him or her whether guns or "medical malfeasance" caused more accidental deaths last year. (Caution: don't ask this question during an examination!)
         And, truth be known, I understand why the state would feel that it needed to pass a law mandating a one year suspension for a student bringing a gun to school. Hey, we've got to prove to these kids that we're tough on such "crimes".
         If my son decided that he wanted to take his Ruger Redhawk to school, I guess I'd have a few questions myself. If I thought for a minute that his school was so unsafe that he felt he needed to carry a firearm for protection, he'd have already spent his last day at that school, for sure. (Since I know that he has the good sense not to take it for some macho 'show-n-tell', and since I trust him as a member in good standing of the Libertarian Party not to violate the Non-Aggression Principle, there could be no other reason.)
         The people who run the schools, who head the law enforcement agencies, who meet to form these innumerable new laws, believe that if you are in possession of a firearm, you are irrevocably bound to commit a criminal act. This assumption forms the basis for laws against concealed carry, open carry, possession of a firearm in certain places, et. al. The powers that be are convinced that you and I are so stupid, so brutish, that the only reason we might possess a firearm is to commit a crime or have an accident.
         You'd think we'd be able to decide for ourselves whether or not we wanted to wear a bicycle helmet, vaccinate against childhood diseases, or carry a firearm. But government, in its infinite wisdom, feels that we are so intellectually impaired, so bereft of common sense, so blindly ignorant of what is good for us or bad for us, that we must be subjected to countless new laws to dictate our every behavior.
         I can't help but wonder what portion of the 2,000 law enforcement officers 'granted' to my state by the "It's a Crime, Bill" will have to be assigned to enforcement of the bicycle helmet, vaccination, and firearms in schools laws?
         And we've still got 346 new laws to cover before the legislature begins anew in January.

John Taylor (76470.3001@compuserve.com or JohnNo6@aol.com) has had all his shots; his entire family has been thoroughly vaccinated; his kids wear bicycle helmets most of the time, and (so far) haven't felt the need to carry guns to school.

A Juror's Creed: As an American juror, I will exercise my 1000 year old duty to arrive at a verdict, not just on the basis of the facts of a particular case or instructions I am given, but through my ability to reason, my knowledge of the Bill of Rights, and my individual conscience.
-- L. Neil Smith

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