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Through The Lens: From My Cold Dead Hands

By Staff | Feb 26, 2020

My story this week is titled “From My Cold Dead Hands”. You may now be thinking this column is about our Second Amendment rights to own a firearm. The ownership of a gun is a key privilege many hold strongly in their core beliefs of citizenship. In these days of strong views and a turbulent world, a person’s rights to bear arms is often debated in the news. Although a column about the constitution and citizen’s rights would be a spirited debate, I will leave that for another day.

This story is about another right that each of us, most likely, holds a strong opinion on. Is it a right given to you in the constitution? No. How about in one of the 27 amendments? No. It is given to you by the state in which you live. In my case and most of you reading this, it was given to us by the state of West Virginia. What is this right that each of us holds so dearly and proclaim to be our right? It is the right to own a key. More correctly said, your car keys.

For most of us, we gained the use of a car key when we turned 16. My dad taught me how to drive using the road around the 4-H camp. My driving skills were further refined by my driver’s education teacher, Mr. Percy Yoho. He had the patience of Job and the courage of a dare-devil to go on the highway with a car driven by a 16 year old. Back then, I never gave much thought to Mr. Yoho and the knowledge he imparted to me. Today, I realize Mr. Yoho taught me more than driving skills, he gave me important life lessons. Those skills have been part of everyday that followed for the rest of my life.

When you think about it, a car key opened the door out into the world. It is unlikely that since you owned that first key, you have ever gone without it. For the most part, we give them little thought as we go about our daily lives. Going shopping, you will need your key. Going to work, you need your key. You reach for your key and start your car giving the right to own them very little thought. In fact, unless you misplace your key and go into a sudden panic, your keys are nearly an unnoticed element in your life.

If tomorrow the government were to say, “Your keys are not a right, they are a given privilege and we want them back”. There would be such an uproar in this country, the sounds of protest would be heard around the world. You may chuckle to yourself, this guy’s story is full of. But before you go shoveling the fertilizer on to me, stop and think. If you purchased a new car in the last couple of years in all likelihood, you don’t need a key to open the door or even start the car. The dealer may have given you a key to put in your pocket. But the fob attached to the key emits a signal unlocking the door. It also allows you to push a button to start the car. Just like magic the process of unlocking your car and starting it has become effortless. Has technology taken away that most basic of fundamental rights, your car key? What’s next, will we ride in car that drives and parks itself? I wonder, what would Mr. Yoho think of that?

That key that you have carried in your pocket since your first car is becoming obsolete. Overtime you will forget you even had a key. Our grandkids will someday tell their grandkids, “In the old days we had to start our cars with a key.” The most basic right of owning a car is quietly being given over to invisible electronic controls.

Forget and leave your key in the center console? Simply touch an app on your phone telling it to unlock your car. Forget your house keys. Touch an app on your phone and the door to your house will unlock. That key that you have carried for many years will in the near future become as unnecessary as the rabbit’s foot you once carried on your key chain for good luck.

You may now begin to believe the loss of a key is not a big thing. You simply chalk it up to evolution in a world of ever changing technology. But what if in the future that same signal from your fob would be up loaded to a master computer in the cloud? In a blink of an eye, it checks to see if your driver’s license, registration and insurance are up to date before allowing you to drive your car. I’ll bet you wished you had your key back about now.

Without realizing it, the fob in your pocket just did a quick background check of your right to drive the car. But what if at the same time a quick check asked the car’s computer, has this vehicle exceeded the speed limit? Has it been driven erratically? Cars already collect important information about your driving habits. And some insurance companies will give you a discount if you place a big brother monitor in your car to tell them of your driving habits.

I realize you may think all of these things I have written about are a bit farfetched, but they are not. By using the keys in your pocket as an example, I have told you of the potential for changes in the future. If we don’t pay attention to our rights as citizens, someday we may regret having a keyless car that talks to a computer in the cloud. The founding fathers put in place the Bill of Rights to protect us. But nowhere in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights does it say you have the right to own your own key and the freedoms that come with it. I think I’ll hold onto my truck key until they take it from my cold dead hand. At least that’s how I see the future of keyless cars Through the Lens.