The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 bans items for children that contain a certain amount of lead. It’s a seemingly great idea to protect kids, but unsurprisingly, the way Congress wrote it causes ridiculous effects.
The Act makes it illegal to sell ATVs and motorcycles to children under 12 because the children might eat the battery terminals, the frame, or tear apart the brakes and lick enough lead to kill or harm them. I’m not sure why kids are incapable of eating Mom’s car battery, which in almost all cases would be easier to get to than a bike or ATV battery, but no one asked me. Lead, while obviously a poor meal, is instrumental as an alloy in the manufacturing of certain materials. Quite simply, it has to be used to construct certain products.
The motorcycle industry, like most industries these days, is hurting. The Act makes it illegal for dealerships to sell the bikes in their showrooms. Lead is used in battery terminals, tire nozzles, and as a trace alloy in frames. Not only does this severely hurt the profitability of a dealership because of lost sales and worthless inventory, but it also hurts the sales of adult ATVs and bikes. If Dad (or Mom) can’t take Billy (or Suzy) with him (or her) on the weekends, then a lot of parents will have to stop riding.
A local dealer told me the Sierra Club was instrumental is passing the Act as a backdoor way of shutting down off road motorized activities. I don’t know if that is correct or just a conspiracy theory, but I have to wonder, especially after the motorcycle industry repeatedly alerted the government to the impact of the law and they made no attempt to cure the preposterous results. The Sierra Club did assist in pushing the Act.
Where does the act of defiance fit in? Malcolm Smith, a legend in off-road motorcycling lore, called the media and told them he was going to sell his youth ATVs and motorcycles in knowing violation of the Federal law. Malcolm faces severe penalties and possible prison time for his bravery.
The protest day was a success, as several ATVs and motorcycles were sold illegally. There was also a show of support by the many off-road racing celebrities who were in attendance. Malcolm carried a baggie of lead fishing weights purchased by his wife that morning to help indicate just how absurd our Nanny State’s nannying has become.
Here is a link to Mr. Smith’s website. He is a true American Hero in my book, and it was a courageous act of defiance. Oh, and thanks again Congress.