The motivation behind a proposed crackdown on sales of prepaid cell phones in Suffolk County is clear: to catch drug pushers who use the untraceable devices to conduct deals, then throw them away. Legis. Kate Browning (WFP-Shirley) acted out of compassion for families who have lost kids to heroin overdoses. Her bill, however, is misguided. It requires buyers to show two kinds of ID and requires the seller to enter that information into a newly created police department database or keep their own records.
Drug dealers will quickly find other ways to conduct their deadly commerce, but the erosion of civil liberties will remain. Two forms of ID aren't required to buy many lethal weapons or to vote, actions with more consequences than using a cheap phone. This bill, scheduled for a Tuesday vote, should be rejected by the legislature.