Are you feeling impulsive? Well, if you are in the District of Columbia there is nothing to fear—the government is doing all it can to protect you from yourself. D.C.’s health department has issued draft regulations that would require anyone seeking a tattoo to wait 24 hours to be inked. A spokesperson for the agency, explained: “We’re making sure when that decision is made that you’re in the right frame of mind, and you don’t wake up in the morning... saying, ‘Oh my God, what happened?’”
So it goes in the District of Columbia, a rule-happy place where parents may be fined $5,000 for failing to subject their children blood tests, and a person may be ticketed for having an extra-vehicle registration ticket on his car. The health department claims it is trying to prevent “serious health risks.” To date, however, no evidence has been put forth to indicate that a problem exists and requires government intervention.
I myself have no dog in this fight; I am tattoo-less and intend to remain so. Yet, it is hard not to feel outrage—since when is it the duty of government to try to stop me from doing something that is legal? And the entire logic of the waiting period is terrifying—you, the idiot citizen, might do something you regret, so we the wise government will intervene. By this rationale, D.C. should impose delays upon anyone who wishes to run a marathon, buy a case of beer, or copulate.
But I am betting that Mayor Gray will quash the proposed tattoo waiting period. He recognizes that this policy’s rationale could be used by Congressional appropriators to enact a waiting period on anyone seeking an abortion.
Kevin R. Kosar is the author most recently of Ronald Reagan and Education Policy (2011).