Now normally, I'm against buying new toys for these tax leeches, but this is an expense I honestly don't mind...because if they've finally decided to join the 21st century and ditch the trunk-mounted VHS recorders, maybe there won't be seven months of "technical difficulties" providing a video the next time they decide to wrongfully arrest me.
Whatever. Anyhow, I'm talking to my tinter about another customer's invoice, and I overhear him and the trooper discussing a new law that supposedly was passed (I'm still searching for confirmation on this, I haven't seen it yet...I'll keep you posted) that ups the minimum amount of Visible Light Transmission (VLT) allowed on automotive windows.
Prior to 1988, all that was required was a total minimum of 20% total VLT on the front doors of any vehicle, with no restrictions on any other windows if the vehicle had two side mirrors. 1988 and newer passenger cars with an enclosed trunk compartment separate from the cabin of the car required 20% total VLT on all windows except the rear windshield. Trucks, vans, SUVs, hatchbacks, station wagons, and any other vehicle without a separate locking trunk compartment were still only subject to the 20% total VLT on the front door windows, as they had no trunk to act as a "privacy area" in order to secure ones' valuables...so the "privacy area" was set to include any area behind the driver's seat.
This alleged new law (I still haven't been able to find any information on it, and had last heard it died on the floor, although this was contradicted by the trooper this morning and is supposedly set to go into effect on September 1, 2009) will require ALL "roll-up" windows of ALL vehicles to maintain a minimum total VLT rating of 35% or more.
So how does that affect me? Well, it's quite simple...a vast deal of the shop's income is derived from keeping our window tinter covered in sweat on a daily basis, from the time he shows up until the time he leaves. We are able to do this because a 20% VLT allows for a combination of the VLT reduction of bare automotive glass AND a 35% window film to reduce heat coming into the vehicle. With standard traditional dye-based films, the amount of heat rejection is roughly 40% at a 35% VLT rating on the film. Start raising the VLT raiting of the film beyond that, and the amount of heat rejection is going to drastically increase. The only way to get around this is to install very high-dollar extruded or nanoceramic films, which can cause the price to double. Joe sixpack may spend a third of his paycheck to stay cool in the brutal Gulf Coast summers, but he'll think twice about having to spend most of it.
On top of this (again, according to "Trooper Toughguy", I haven't been able to find the law and the state website hasn't made any changes yet), there is no "grandfather clause" for cars that have been tinted to previous standards...which means that if you got your car tinted today, it becomes illegal in less than three months. You will either be forced to peel it off, or pay us to do it for you.
***Now for the LET ME POINT OUT YOUR HIPOCRASY section of this blog.***
I had issues with the "post-88" law regarding cars, because it was obviously not a "safety issue" as claimed by those who enforce it. For that matter, neither was the prior law requiring 20% total VLT on the windows, mainly because of the "exemptions" clause in the law.
Now obviously, I can understand some concern about law enforcement not wanting to be known, if they are on some sort of G-14 Classified undercover assignment...but if you're continuously parked down the street from a crack dealer's house in a brand-new SUV, and EVERY WINDOW ON THE VEHICLE is draped in limo tint except for the windshield (which has an "eyebrow" dropping six inches below the AS1 line, to conceal your "cherries and berries" and cameras), and you're the only illegal vehicle in the area NOT getting jacked up by the cops, and no one knows who the guy in the brand-new SUV is, isn't that a dead giveaway? I mean, for real? Obviously, crack dealers are a special breed of stupid...but they at least have a modicum of "street smarts". You start looking suspicious, and no one is going to talk to you. You're gonna get labled as "Five-Oh" from jump street.
Yeah, more on that...umm, the "Law Enforcement Exemption" doesn't just cover "surveillance vehicles", but EVERY vehicle owned, maintained, and used by law enforcement...including patrol cars AND the cars you and I pay for, that are used by the DA and our county judges. You don't know how many cars I've been forced to accept with limo tint on the front doors, because the people just happened to work for the state.
On a semi-related note, you don't know how happy it makes me when I get to tell a cop "No, I'm NOT going to do that!", and then get to point out the law. You see, it really doesn't matter how many antennas you have on the trunk of your unmarked Crown Victoria with the steel wheels...if the license plates don't read "Exempt", it is not a "cop car"...it is a COP'S car. In other words, a privately-owned vehicle that does not fall under the exemptions of our window tint laws. Sweat it out, pig. You wanted it, you got it. Welcome to Texas!
Before I digress any further, let's talk about why we have the 20% total VST law in effect right now. Apparently, it's for "safety concerns". The law enforcement (LE) community claim it is to promote "driver safety", because having darker windows prevents us from being able to see oncoming traffic and road hazards as well as clear glass. Yeah, I get that...so why have an exemption for POLICE PATROL CARS, WHO DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING BUT DRIVE AROUND ALL DAY AND NIGHT THROUGH OUR CITIES? It seems to me like, of all vehicles, cars driven by people whose job is to not only navigate safely through our road systems, but also to catch people violating traffic laws, should not be allowed to have their views obstructed more than any other driver.
***And now comes the "BUT HERE'S WHAT REALLY PISSED ME OFF" portion of tonight's blog.***
Okay, so I asked said trooper this morning, "if it's an issue of safety, why make it apply to every roll-down window?".
His response was, and I quote, "It's not for your safety...it's for OUR safety." I heard that, and I almost choked when I bit my tongue in an effort from telling him what I really thought. Why would I do such a thing, you might ask? Well, here's why:
First off, there were 133 police officers killed "In the Line of Duty" last year. Not "officers murdered while performing their jobs", but rather, merely killed by unnatural means while on the taxpayer's dime. To date, in the ENTIRE HISTORY OF THIS NATION, there have been only 18,861 officers to have died on the clock...in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, by all means except natural.
According to the Department of Justice, there were 731,903 patrol AND administrative LE officers working in the United States (state and local only) in 2004. In that same year, there were THIRTY SIX officers actually shot to death. That's 36, out of more than 700k. The ratio is one in more than TWENTY THOUSAND. The rate of on-the-job fatalities for EVERY AMERICAN WORKER, INCLUDING POLICE OFFICERS, is one in twenty-five thousand...including that dipshit that does nothing but answer the phone at the cable company.
I'm sorry, but getting shot at is an on-the-job occupational hazard, and will continue to be such until the police begin to start policing their own. I can't open a newspaper or crack open the facebook without seeing youtube videos of pregnant chicks, retarded people, skateboarding teenagers, and the elderly getting tasered for "disrespecting your authority".
If a policeman is afraid of getting shot, there are two very distinct things that can help prevent this. First and foremost, let's try not acting like dickheads. That might prevent people from wanting to shoot you. Second, start policing your own. When you see your fellow badge-wearers acting like dickheads, denounce them for what they are in public. Tell them, privately, they are being dickheads. When you see your colleagues tasering a senior citizen on YouTube, don't give us that line of bullshit about how we "don't know how dangerous it is" or how "she shouldn't have broken the law". That dipshit tasered a social-security-drawing grandmother over a speeding ticket...and when you make excuses, it makes the world think you are no better.
Another thing, let's not forget that you WILLFULLY CHOSE THIS LINE OF EMPLOYMENT. No one forced you to wear a badge. You sought out the opportunity, while knowing the risks. At what point does your willingness to accept a semi-dangerous (I say "semi-dangerous", as it is proven that it isn't much more dangerous than any other line of work in America!) occupation somehow outweigh my freedom to not sweat my balls off in the Gulf Coast summers? What right do you have to interfere with my paychecks, merely because you are afraid of what might possibly happen to you?
I am, statistically, far more likely to be seriously burned by a hot seatbelt buckle (you know, the ones you guys require us to put on when we drive?) than my local cop is to be shot while on duty. What makes you think that a willfully-assumed danger YOU accepted, as a condition of your employment, somehow trumps my constitutional rights?
My 1A right guarantees me the right to "freedom of speech"...and, as SCOTUS has repeatedly ruled, it extends to all forms of personal expression, INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO CUSTOMIZE MY CAR AS I SEE FIT, so long as it does not interfere with the rights of another. If it's a "safety" issue, as far as my driving is concerned, I'll give up my right to customize my car as soon as you give up the right to customize yours.
My 4A right guarantees me the right to be "secure in my person, papers, and effects", and you don't have the right to search my personal property without my consent, probable cause, or a warrant. Yes, that includes ALL of my property, including any vehicles that I own. I'll give up the right to be secure in my own vehicle, as soon as you give up the right to be secure in yours. You want to look in my windows, and be able to see in? That's fine...drop your gun before you approach my car. Your gun makes me feel less secure.
My 5A right guarantees that I don't have to tell you WHY I want my windows blacked out. It tells me that you don't have the right to know what's in my back seat, if you have no reasonable cause to believe that there's something illegal back there.
***Now for the "Here's why I think this law (and the cops who think it somehow protects them!) are stupid!" portion of tonight's blog.***
Under Texas law, I am legally authorized (as if I really needed someone to write this down for me!) to pack a loaded and UNLICENSED pistol in my vehicle, as long as it is concealed. I am not legally required to tell you I have it, I am only legally required to not lie to you if you ask. Yes, that means I can lawfully tell you to mind your own fucking business, because any pistol I may or may not be carrying is no business of yours, and you have no cause to believe that any such pistol may be evidence of or partaining to a crime.
That means I can lawfully be sitting on a LOADED AND UNLICENSED pistol, within the confines of my vehicle, persuant to 46.02 of the Texas Penal Code. I prefer to keep mine in the glove box and/or center console, because it's more comfortable than sitting on it...but that's beside the point. If you walk up to me while I'm LAWFULLY sitting on a loaded pistol, with intent to use it against you, two things are happening here...one, you're completely unprepared for it. Two, I haven't broken a law until I draw a bead on you.
What does this mean? MY WINDOWS CAN BE CLEAR AS HELL, AND I CAN STILL BE LEGALLY CONCEALING A PISTOL. If I want to shoot a cop, window tint regulations aren't going to make a difference.
***So what have we learned tonight?***
Window tint laws DO NOT increase "officer safety". In all reality, they weren't really in any danger to begin with, as statistics have clearly shown.
Window tint laws DO NOT increase "driver safety", as they are written to SPECIFICALLY EXEMPT the members of our society that spend the most time on our public streets.
This is statism in its highest form. First and foremost, it provides a "pretext" to initiate contact between LEO and citizen that would otherwise be illegal. Second, it provides revenue for the LE agency writing the ticket, that would otherwise not exist.
***Silly Trooper, guns are for FREE MEN!***
Seriously, if you have an issue with the tinted windows of a man who has never intentionally caused the suffering of another, merely because he MAY POSSIBLY DO SO IN THE FUTURE, they have places for you. It's called "Great Brittain", where they outlaw certain kinds of kitchen knives and photograph everyone when they go into public places...