Those selling precious metals in Houston are now considered criminals until they prove otherwise. That is essentially the crux of a bill passed by the city council requiring gold-buying businesses to photograph and fingerprint those bringing in gold to sell, photograph the items being sold and create an online database of the transactions.
Houston Police Officer Rick Barajas told the council the bill is “going to allow us the tools necessary to combat a lot of high-end jewelry thefts that going on in the city, whether it’s robberies or burglaries.” But Councilwoman Helena Brown — the only councilor to vote against the ordinance — rightfully called it “safety theater” that would burden businesses and invade jewelry sellers’ privacy.
The ordinance was passed in response to an increase in the monetary losses that reached $10,000 in jewelry in 4,800 burglaries from July 2010 to June 2011.
“Why even ask the legal, law-abiding people to submit to this? It’s not going to prevent crime and it’s not going to solve any crimes,” Brown said. “It’s ludicrous. We’ve gone way beyond what our Founding Fathers envisioned for this nation.”
She’s right. Like requiring gun owners to register their guns or get permits, laws like this affect only those who are willing to follow the law. Criminals will find other ways to dispose of their stolen gold and silver. The only people who will submit to photography and fingerprinting are those who are selling their own gold. And most of those will probably go outside the city in order to conduct their business in private.
The end result of this will be fewer customers for Houston’s gold dealers — and a commensurate decline in revenues — and an increase in their cost of doing business. It will also spur the growth of the gold sale black market.
This ordinance is typical of the ignorance of the political class, which always attacks the rights of the innocent rather than addressing the criminal element and working to reduce the number of burglaries.