OPINION – A recent conversation with a firearms instructor turned out to be quite an eye-opener. During the course of our dialogue, I mentioned that I looked forward to the Utah legislature someday passing a constitutional carry law that would do away with the need for concealed firearm permits.
The instructor’s reaction surprised me. He was adamantly against the idea of a law-abiding adult being able to possess a handgun, concealed or openly, without some type of state-mandated training.
My first thought was that he was simply trying to protect his economic livelihood in teaching concealed carry classes. But further discussion revealed something far more disturbing.
He informed me that he refuses to teach courses here in Utah because he’s seen how “stupid” Utah residents are in regards to firearms. His comments and attitude revealed something more than a simple superiority complex. He was demonstrating a profound personal distrust of freedom and his fellow citizens.
How ironic that an individual who teaches firearms safety and handling considers the public too stupid to learn these skills unless they are compelled by the state. This lack of trust in freedom can be found throughout society in many other areas. Its telltale symptom is almost always a requirement for state licensure.
But licensure is not the panacea that many consider it to be. In fact, it can instill a false sense of security while criminalizing actions that have caused no harm whatsoever.
For instance, just last year, Jestina Clayton was told she could not braid hair for a living without a state-issued cosmetology license. This would have required 2,000 hours of schooling. State legislators sought to “help” her and other hair braiders by lowering the requirement to only 300 hours of instruction in order to obtain a license.
Considering that no one has been able to produce any evidence that hair braiding has caused harm to anyone, why should she need a license in the first place? The answer is that there are two parties that benefit from licensure: the state and special interests.
The state benefits monetarily by charging a tax — often referred to as a “fee”— for giving someone permission to do what would otherwise be forbidden. This also allows the state’s power to grow in relation to the oversight it exercises over a given industry.
Special interests benefit in becoming a cartel that enjoys protected status by prohibiting those who are not a part of it from competing in a specific field of work. Not surprisingly, lobbyists on behalf of the state’s cosmetology schools were the ones pushing for licensure for hair braiders in order to protect their turf. Likewise, a number of firearms instructors opposed constitutional carry because it could affect their bottom line.
Both groups tend to justify the need for licensing as a matter of public safety, but it really comes down to a desire to maintain privileged status with the state’s help.
Once a builder, an accountant, or a doctor has received a state license, it is presumed that a person securing their services will be in good hands. But even with a state license, we’re still dealing with fallible human beings. A state license is no replacement for the consumer’s responsibility to do his or her homework by vetting whatever professional they intend to hire.
A professional has to be dangerously incompetent in order to get censure from their cartel’s licensing board.
Instead of making the public safe from malpractice or injury, licensure substitutes the judgment of the state for the judgment of the customer. This intervention prevents free market indicators like reputation and price from functioning. It also means that anyone who provides a particular service without the proper state license can be prosecuted as a criminal without actually having caused any harm.
It’s a prime example of pre-emptive law being used to support and maintain a monopoly on behalf of special interests. It also denies the customer choice under the guise of protecting them from harm that has not yet occurred. Licensure is based in a fear of freedom and distrust of others.
The basic premise of the modern state is that anything not under its direct control is, by definition, out of control.
Our legal system is perfectly capable of holding people accountable for acts that injure another. The desire to deny freedom to others because we fear that they might misbehave is a sure way to destroy our own freedom.
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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