Saturday, February 25, 2012

There oughtn't be a law

The front-page headline in this morning's edition of The Columbus Dispatch blares, "Secret compartments could get drivers busted."

A proposed law, touted yesterday by Gov. John Kasich as part of Ohio's stepped-up drug-interdiction efforts, would make it a fourth-degree felony to own a vehicle equipped with hidden compartments. Naturally, law-enforcement agencies -- notably the Ohio State Highway Patrol -- love the idea.

Law-abiding citizens, however, should be less than thrilled.

Think about it -- should we expect drug traffickers to avoid Ohio, or to smuggle narcotics in vehicles not fitted with covert stashes, just because there's a law against secret compartments?

Of course not. Any claim that such a law would be a deterrent is patently laughable.

Citizens who cherish Liberty see a far more sinister effect. The simple act of modifying a vehicle to incorporate a secure place to stow emergency supplies or, for example, to (otherwise legally) transport a firearm or ammunition would earn us a felony charge -- even if the compartment doesn't hold drugs or other contraband.

It's the definition of a political stunt. Gov. Kasich is desperate to curry favor with law enforcement. Sen. Jim Hughes, the bill's sponsor, wants to score points with Gov. Kasich. And patrol superintendent Col. John Born is doing what political appointees do.

The ill-conceived secret-compartment proposal seeks to address the state's drug-trafficking problem by assaulting individual liberties. Ohio has plenty of anti-drug statutes already on the books without creating another that'd turn now-law-abiding citizens into criminals.

This citizen will urge his elected representatives to squash the bill.