A poker player in Atlantic City, N.J., used a hotel room commode to flush counterfeit poker chips. Therefore, it’s only a matter of time before flushing anything requires government inspection, an identification card and detailed database of all toilet flushes.
It sounds ridiculous, of course, but such is the logic used to advocate for a bill in the Kansas Legislature. The so-called “Breaking Bad bill” would require people to show government-issued identification when purchasing a pre-paid cellphone. House Bill 2441 would require retailers to collect and file with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation pre-paid cellphone purchasers’ names and addresses.
Pre-paid cellphones are sometimes used in the commission of gang and drug-related crimes. Obviously in the minds of the bill’s proponents, everyone who purchases a pre-paid cellphone should be treated like a budding criminal or terrorist.
It’s the same sort of logic federal lawmakers used to ban over-the-counter sales of pseudoephedrine, and let me tell you, that ban has really made the lives of dozens of people suffering from the common cold a lot better. That’s sarcasm. The Combat Methamphetamine Act of 2005 became the law of the land as part of the Patriot Act in 2006.
As a result, I got the full criminal treatment when I bought some of those delightful little red pills in January. In some ways, I can see why the pharmacist suspected I might be a meth head.
I was dressed in my pajamas with watery eyes and a bright red nose. One would think my straight, healthy teeth would indicate my meth-free status, but nope.
The electronic database of pill purchasers would not accept my information. So for added measure, the pharmacist came from behind the counter to quasi-question whether I’d been buying drugs at other pharmacies that day.
The answer was no. I felt like I was dying.
I spent the day in bed blowing my nose and praying for rest. What should’ve taken less than five minutes, took more than a half-hour.
On a positive note, the pharmacy probably got a few repeat customers thanks to my extended stay. I’m sure I was contagious.
Meanwhile, the law created to combat meth has done little more than add to the headaches of law-abiding citizens. It certainly hasn’t stopped drug dealers from making and selling meth. After a brief dip in meth use rates, data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health implies that meth’s prevalence and use is rebounding.
Criminals, by definition, will find a way to work around legal roadblocks. It’s the innocent people who suffer.
I’m certain the people who drafted Kansas’ cellphone identification legislation had the best of intentions. The bill was introduced and sponsored by the Kansas House Standing Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice, which ironically, means it was written and introduced anonymously. So much for transparency.
While there are likely instances in which anonymously purchased cellphones were used for nefarious means, there are just as likely instances in which good people needed anonymity. Consider, for example, a woman in an abusive domestic relationship, or a witness to criminal activity wanting to report it without providing identification.
This bill is shortsighted. Just because an item can be used for criminal purposes, that doesn’t mean everyone will use it that way.
I hope whoever drafted this law isn’t a supporter of the Second Amendment because the reasoning used to advance the no-anonymous cellphones bill is the exact same logic anti-gun rights people use to advance their cause of gun control.
It’s baffling to me how someone who is an avid supporter of gun rights can in good conscience argue that everyone who purchases cold medication or a pre-paid cellphone should be ID’ed and listed in a database. But that’s where we are.
The cellphone bill is set for a committee hearing before this column runs.
At least one member the committee has serious reservations about the “Breaking Bad” legislation.
“Criminals always find a way around the law,” Rep. Brett Hildabrand said. “This will just end up hurting some innocent bystanders that may have privacy needs law enforcement hasn’t taken into consideration. I will be voicing these concerns when (the bill) is scheduled for a hearing.”
Hopefully, he won’t be alone in his opposition. By the time you read this, the bill may have been flushed down the toilet where it belongs.