In a recent discussion the topic of locksmith licensing had arisen and it soon became an interesting exchange of viewpoints. What struck me the most about it was the rapid decline of reasoning and logic presented by those supporting it. The locksmith industry has for many, many years operated above board and exhibited a level of individual ethics without the need for over reaching regulations. Today however, there are individuals who feel compelled to dismiss a key consideration when presenting their arguments in favor of regulation.
In every "debate" with the minority of locksmiths who advocate for licensing, there seems to be a sense of sudden silence when you challenge their positions with relevant questions. You can hear the sound of crickets when you ask them to answer you and they suddenly disappear from the limelight. To engage in a proper debate, one cannot run and hide when logic prevails and points are clearly proven by the opposing opinion.
I have learned the skill sets of locksmithing from many mentors. I would include nationally recognized names like Bill Reed, Hank Spicer, Frank Agius, Jerry McNickle, Joe Bucha, Len White, and a host of others who have either dedicated time to teach, written manuals or those who have contributed technical "how to" articles in trade magazines, tools, inventions and more.
In this discussion of licensing, I was told that I "just don't get it" when I did not agree with the reasoning being presented as to why locksmiths need regulation. This viewpoint was intriguing to me since I believe I am very open minded and willing to be enlightened about a subject I may not understand. My willingness to debate the issue is not intended to inflame or insult anyone, but they must understand that they do not have the exclusive right to say the things they do without someone engaging their position.
The argument being presented was that in order for the locksmith to be a professional, they must be licensed. In order for the locksmith to be viewed as a professional they must be licensed, and that any misdemeanor, criminal infraction, or felony is cause for someone to not be allowed to practice the skills of locksmithing.
Using logic, I asked the following questions -
Am I a Professional?
Were the individuals I mentioned above professionals?
The answer is YES, and none of these individuals mentioned above or myself were regulated and they have served the locksmith industry well with their accomplishments and contributions. Using logic, the argument that in order to be considered a professional is predicated upon being licensed is not accurate. The very same persons who say your not a professional if your not licensed have gained their knowledge from those who were never regulated and now want to regulate others behind them....so who is kidding who here?
Crimes and misdemeanors! Oh my! The folly that follows these arguments is more of a crime then someones indiscretion or an inept police officer or corrupt court. Proponents of locksmith licensing often appear to be a revival of the Salem Witch Hunts, who seem to want to use any excuse as minor as spitting on the street to restrict someone form seeking a career path in locksmithing. Can I say "craft" in the same sentence as Salem Witch Hunts?
A person suffering from alcoholism, may find themselves with infractions that certainly are a result of poor judgement. However, alcoholism is a proven disease. It is one which an individuals does not select at birth. Such a person may find themselves hit with a felony DWI. Does this mean they should be banished from installing door hardware? No, and it is silly and ignorant to think it in my opinion. However, there are advocates for licensing that believe alcoholism is a crime, not a disease and resort to claiming "you just don't get it!", if you think otherwise.
We stand at the edge of the slippery slope when this type of "unregulated" thought process by a minority group within a trade is allowed to impose its will upon others. The fact is, in a recent poll conducted by the SOPL that only 12% of the locksmiths are in favor of licensing, while 88% oppose it.
I think I get it, I really do. I also think I get it when I hear the sounds of crickets when reasonable questions are asked and not answered. If individuals or groups claiming to be the "voice of the industry" climb up on their soap boxes pointing out splinters in other peoples eyes, they should take some time to examine the planks in theirs.
Locksmith Jarlon Reames of Memphis TN, once told me that licensing is more about others trying to impose "rules" to protect themselves because of their unwillingness to adapt to change, evolve or do what is needed to compete in the marketplace.
The slippery slope is a fast ride downhill for everyone and there are no brakes.
This blog entry is not intended to inflame anyone, and it is not representative of all members of the SOPL. We are a diverse group with many opinions. The purpose of this posting is to simply get others to "think" before they light a match.
Tom Lynch, CRL