Virginia Teens: Get Your Tattoos Now! Piercings Too.
So I'm sitting in the Virginia House of Delegates' Committee on Courts and Justice this afternoon and along comes a bill to prohibit tattoo parlors from providing their services to minors. No way, I figure. This is going down, big time.
After all, we are in Virginia, and if you can't exercise your right to act like a jerk/express your individuality/cherish your constitutional rights here in the Old Dominion, where on earth can you? Virginia's House yields to no other state legislature in the land in its zealous protection of the rights of its citizens to carry weapons into college classrooms, carry open containers of alcoholic beverages in your car, and to drive without fear of being pulled over for driving without a seat belt.
Well, strap yourselves in for this one: The committee passed a total ban on tattooing of Virginians under the age of 16; the full House will consider the bill in the coming days. (The web version of the bill linked above shows the bill banning tattoos for anyone under 18; the bill has since been amended to lower the age to 16.)
How in the world did Delegate Dwight Jones, a Democrat from Richmond, manage to win unanimous support in the committee? Easy: He turned tattooing into a gang issue.
All Jones had to do was mention an incident in which some kid got a tattoo of a swastika engraved on his head and then note that gangs use tattoos as a way to ensnare kids and --poof--the committee was all his.
The bill also would ban body piercing for anyone under 16 unless a parent gave consent to the procedure.
The bill was the inspiration of a group of mothers from Charles City County, who came to Jones with an academic study showing that nearly a quarter of high school students have tattoos.
"It's an entry to all kinds of risky behavior," said Angela Yancey, one of the moms who have led this effort. "Binge drinking, gang membership."
Will Virginia really ban tattooing of kids? Stay tuned. Thus far, there's been hardly any opposition. As Delegate Jones says, "The tattoo parlors don't have lobbyists."
Not yet, anyway.
By Marc Fisher |
February 6, 2006; 6:02 PM ET
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