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Seat belt laws invade liberty

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On Independence Day, we celebrate liberty and freedom from government oppression. I find it ironic that this is also the point where our police departments are targeting their aggressive seat belt enforcement.

One officer, with thinly-veiled smugness, stated something like, "It's now a primary offense, so we can stop cars for that reason alone. We'll be watching closely during this holiday."

Well, that's just what we need — police officers gloating about their newly-granted authority over ordinary citizens.

Proper government is limited.

Yet on Independence Day, we often casually celebrate only our freedom from enemies abroad, not realizing that much of the ongoing threat to our liberty comes from within our own country, state, and cities, from well-meaning people who use the heavy hand of government to make more laws "for our own good." Traffic laws are meant to aid the orderly flow of traffic.

But the decision of whether someone wears a seat belt effects neither the orderly flow of traffic nor the safety of other drivers.

I do wear my seat belt, by the way, because it is a good idea.

I hope the Legislature will see the irony in this Independence Day crackdown on seat belt "criminals," and will have the wisdom next January to at least roll back the seat belt law to a secondary offense for everyone and drop the fine back to $10.

Please, let's just continue to educate on the value of seat belts, and then let people decide for themselves, even though some will decide unwisely. But that's part of the freedom which we should be celebrating this time of year.

Gerald Larsen