Apparently, the Ohio Legislature has lost their minds.
The busy bodies in the Ohio Legislator figured they could stay one step ahead of drug dealers if they criminalized the secret compartments in cars that aid in the clandestine operations of drug traffickers.
The legislation, which passed the State Senate and House overwhelmingly in June 2012, drastically invades the property rights of individuals. Among other things, the law prohibits the designing, building, or constructing of a vehicle to create or add a hidden compartment with the intent to facilitate the unlawful concealment or transportation of a controlled substance.
This past week the draconian law claimed its first victim. WKYC Channel 3 reports that thirty-year-old Norman Gurley was arrested Tuesday evening. He was awarded the distinction of being the first arrest made under the state’s new “compartment law.” Police had pulled Gurley over for speeding and noticed wires running to the back of the car. This led them to the empty hidden compartment in the back of Gurley’s car.
Under the new law, it does not matter that Gurley did not have any drugs in his possession. If not for the new “compartment law” the cops would have let him go with a speeding ticket. Thanks to the new law a human being will be locked in a cage for the non-violent crime of owning a vehicle that has a hidden compartment.
Lt. Michael Combs, of the State Highway Patrol, claims that this law “takes away one tool they have in their illegal trade.” Combs says, “The law does help us and is on our side.”
Lt. Combs could not be further from the truth.
The law will only further drive drug trafficking into the shadows. Designers and builders of these compartments will have their trade forced onto the black market. It won’t matter if the customers intend to use the compartments for legal purposes; they will be forced to operate outside of the legal marketplace. This means that no taxes will be paid, but more violence could be introduced into the trade.
Dr. Mark Thornton explained, on a recent episode of the Lions of Liberty podcast, which conditions in the black market could lead to violence. I can’t explain the issues as clearly as Dr. Thornton, but I will try to summarize the argument.
Contracts and their enforcement via the law do not exist in a black market. Individuals are forced to solve disagreements and settle contract disputes without the assistance of a judge. If a drug dealer is deceived into overpaying or buying an inferior product during an illegal transaction, they cannot sue the other party for fraud. If they did, they would end up in jail themselves. Instead, the black market and prohibition in general force individuals to solve problems without law, and this typically leads to violence.
The new “compartment law” is intrusive and dangerous. It will push more business into the black market by making more services and products illegal. It also adds more risk to the dealing of drugs, which could raise the price by limiting supply. This report highlights the dangerous erosion of property rights, which forms the mold upon which free societies are built.