Perspectives: What licensure laws and cartels have in common

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.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.


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  • Mark Speener June 24, 2013 at 10:06 am

    I wrote a paper on this for school. Licensing makes no sense for a lot of professions. Private certifications could fill the void with the more trustworthy ones rising to the top.

    There’s a few beauty schools in town. Shouldn’t graduating from Paul Mitchell be enough of an endorsement? Why do you need X hours and have to pass a test?

  • Bender June 24, 2013 at 11:17 am

    Here, here. Let’s do away with the drivers license and all physician licensing while we are at it.

  • My Evil Twin June 24, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    Bryan, I believe that you are way off base here, in comparing concealed carry permits, to business licenses. Think about what you have said. There is a huge difference in getting recompense from someone who has done reversible damage to you, and getting recompense for the death of someone. Both can be caused by lack of training, education and skill. But just how do you recompense the dead person who was killed through lack of training?
    Hunter safety courses are required to get a hunting license. I don’t think too many folks believe that is not a very wise thing to require. But you believe that just anyone should be able to carry a loaded, concealed hand gun? I would far rather know that a person has to have a certain amount of training and knowledge to be able to legally carry concealed at the mall, or the store, or the restaurant I am at.
    I agree that what that instructor told you was idiotic.

    • Bryan Hyde June 24, 2013 at 2:39 pm

      The right to keep and bear arms pre-exists government. That means no one should need a government license to exercise that right.
      Having said that, I encourage every gun owner I know to become as well-trained and competent as possible. It makes them safer and, by extension, everyone around them. But they should be trained because they take their responsibility seriously and not because the state is forcing them to do so in order to exercise an inalienable right.

  • Roy J June 24, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    Hair braiding business being run without a license?!? Quick call Customs!!! Oh wait, they were taken over by Homeland Security a while back….Call Homeland Security! We’re being attacked by economic terrorists!

    • Roy J June 24, 2013 at 2:53 pm

      well that sort of applies.

  • Paul June 25, 2013 at 7:14 am

    “I also spoke at length for the repeal of the ordinance of the city licensing merchants, hawkers, taverns, and ordinaries, desiring that this might be a free people, and enjoy equal rights and privileges, and the ordinances were repealed.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 8.)

    “In the end, more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security and a comfortable life; and they lost all—comfort and security and freedom.” -Thomas Monson

  • RPMcMurphy June 25, 2013 at 9:51 am

    I’m not sure the firearms instructor lacks trust in freedom — perhaps he just doesn’t have much faith in the common sense of people. I love and trust freedom but don’t necessarily trust the people exercising their freedoms.

  • Bebo June 27, 2013 at 5:36 am

    @ Bender… *hear, hear.

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