• 75°

John Hood: Real danger is overreach on rules

John Hood

John Hood is chairman of the John Locke Foundation.

John Hood is chairman of the John Locke Foundation.

RALEIGH — Should regulators require child-safety locks on stepladders?

Such a rule would have been a real problem at the Hood abode years ago when my boys were little. At the time, there were a couple of different folding ladders that got transported from room to room throughout the day, allowing the Little Rascals access to videotapes, action figures, model cannons, Pop Tarts, and other essentials of modern life.

But according to a recent report, more people in North Carolina die from falls in their homes than they do from such hazards as fires, drownings, or the discharge of firearms. The risk isn’t limited to the elderly; falls are also one of the leading causes of injuries to children under the age of 14.

So why not require a lock or other device to keep young children and the infirm from mounting a stepladder? Because that would be impractical and silly, you might say. Because such a rule might even put more people in danger, since those deterred from using a ladder to reach a great height would probably use whatever else they could find to accomplish the task. You might also point out that while falls may represent one of the single-greatest safety hazards one might encounter in a home, the chance of being seriously injured or killed by a fall is still remote.

All of these arguments are valid. They also apply to other panicky governmental over-reactions.

For example, years ago Congress required pills to be placed in bottles with childproof caps. You can understand why. Every year, some children were sickened or even killed by ingesting multiple pills they found in their parents’ medicine cabinet. Unfortunately, as economist Kip Viscusi later established with careful study, the first childproof caps coincided with increases in overall poisonings. Older people who took a lot of medicine found it difficult to work the caps and got in the habit of just leaving the caps off entirely. Another reason was a “lulling effect” on parents who took fewer precautions. …

I don’t need to spend a lot of time explaining why gun control might make at least some people less safe. By now, the arguments surely sound familiar. North Carolina is a concealed-carry state. Crime and homicide rates are lower today than they were when the statute was enacted. Perhaps they would have fallen even more if North Carolinians weren’t carrying concealed weapons, but it is certainly plausible — and there is, once again, empirical evidence pointing in this direction — that the policy deters some crimes by communicating to potential criminals that their victims could be armed. …

Freeing our lives from risk is impossible. Our goals should be to identify, manage and minimize risk. The next time you hear someone mourn a tragic loss of life and pontificate about how “there ought to be a law,” express sympathy but then diplomatically ask him what his position is on stepladder regulation.

Hood is chairman of the John Locke Foundation.

Comments

Local

Hundreds turn out for annual Juneteenth celebration on newest federal holiday

Local

Between local champions and an upcoming state tournament, pickleball putting Salisbury on map

Business

Business leaders hope to draw big crowd for job fair at West End Plaza

News

Officers cleared in Mooresville shooting

Business

From firefighter to photographer, Brianna Mitschele is ready to capture more moments in downtown Salisbury

News

25 years later, runners reflect on Olympic torch’s trip through Rowan

News

Commissioners to consider designating Newberry Hall House as county historic landmark

Farm & Garden

51st annual Old Southeast Threshers’ Reunion set for July 1-5

Business

Biz Roundup: St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Foundation awards grants from Salisbury to Jerusalem

Lifestyle

Kristy Woodson Harvey: For Dad

News

South Salisbury Fire Department activates new weather siren

Lifestyle

Library Notes: Meet the ‘Dare Devil Dogs’ in Week 5

Faith

Q&A with Bishop Tim Smith

College

Wolfpack tops Stanford falls in College World Series opener

Lifestyle

‘Down by the Praise Pond’ shares local author’s faith in debut children’s book

Nation/World

Driver crashes into crowd at Pride parade in Florida; 1 dead

News

Search continues after 3 tubers die, 2 disappear at dam

News

Research from NC State professors is aboard space station

Education

Livingstone College celebrates federal recognition of Juneteenth

College

Wolfpack faces Stanford today in College World Series

Nation/World

Tropical weather lashes Gulf Coast with winds, rain

Nation/World

Girl attacked by bear in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

News

Cooper vetoes bill that would have allowed more to carry guns in churches

News

Two tubers remain missing after going over Dan River dam