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In a nutshell

March 14, 2013

On Tuesday this week, I was reading an article in the Post-Dispatch: Missouri motorcyclists could go helmet-free in August under proposal. State Rep. Delus Johnson (R-St. Joseph) was proposing a "helmet holiday" during the month of August, primarily to avoid discouraging motorcycle tourists from visiting Missouri.

Like 19 other states in the U.S., Missouri requires all motorcycle riders to wear a helmet. The only two states that don’t require any riders to wear helmets are our neighbors, Illinois and Iowa. (The other 29 states require helmets based on the rider’s age.) I remember riding my first motorcycle in Illinois without a helmet. It was fun.

The article piqued my interest since I still ride a bike. It would be nice to ride without a helmet occasionally even though I appreciate the increased risk. There’s always the hope the "helmet holiday" might become year-long.

But what caught my eye in this article was a comment by another state representative. Mike Colona (D-St. Louis) countered: “There is no constitutionally guaranteed right not to wear a helmet.”

There’s the problem in a nutshell. Mr. Colona seems to believe that the Constitution is intended to govern the behavior of citizens. Worse, he seems to think that if it’s not called out in the Constitution, then it can’t be allowed. A sort of "Everything that isn’t forbidden is compulsory" type of system.

Here’s a news flash, Representative: the Constitution is intended to govern the behavior of the government. Back to Civics class, dude.

It was a really lame argument. He’d might as well have said, “There is no constitutionally guaranteed right to jaywalk” for all the sense that makes. There are no constitutional questions regarding the vast majority of state laws.

This is Missouri, Rep. Colona, and you need to show me why the state should be able to regulate its citizens in some way. It won’t do to say that we "have no right" to avoid some regulation.

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