Fiercely Independent Locksmiths of America — T.F. Stern

By T.F. Stern,

I woke up early from my slumbers to jot down a thought or two concerning the locksmith industry which I’ve been associated with since 1976. This weekend our country celebrates Independence Day, a chance to reflect on God having blessed us with our inalienable rights as declared some two hundred years ago.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

In my mind that celebration has become tainted to some degree by an ever imposing host of entities, bureaucrats and self serving “blow-hards” who think they know better than me how to get the job done and yet have nothing invested in my business other than hot air. In spite of this, I continue to celebrate opportunities afforded individuals in this great nation. I wonder what our founders would have to say, particularly Thomas Jefferson who penned so eloquently our sentiments for all the world to see.

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

I felt compelled to arise early, begin work on creating a new locksmith association, one which would express the views of, and cater to, fiercely independent individuals currently involved in the business and who are not properly represented at this time. I’d been a member of the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) from 1978 until this past year when I decided not to renew; choosing not to pay dues to an organization which fails to represent my independent views regarding the locksmith industry.

“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Long ago the ALOA was a forum for locksmiths to exchange ideas and promote our specific industry; but somewhere along the way it got lost and became a political movement more concerned with how the industry was perceived publicly rather than representing those involved in the actual business of providing locksmith goods and services. It has been a gradual process, degradation from pure locksmith orientation to some monstrous security industry political action committee which represents something entirely different than what it had at one time; sorry, count me out.

Each year articles in ALOA’s monthly publication, Keynotes, reflected the change from a trade publication toward expressing political views, a spearhead movement that centered on licensing the locksmith industry in order to make it appear more professional, to validate the industry if you will. There were fewer articles, ways to improve locksmith skills, in favor of reports detailing legislation being introduced in various states that would somehow improve the locksmith industry through licensing efforts; the handwriting was on the wall and yet we turned a blind eye to it.

We really didn’t have much choice, go along with being licensed or be legislated out of business; the wheels of “progress” (socialism) had been set in motion. The folks at the top didn’t like the old image of some guy wearing overalls fiddling with a piece of hardware; they saw this as an opportunity to wave the magic wand of bureaucracy over our industry and call it a profession. Tinkerers who could work a piece of metal into a working key were pushed aside in favor of technical advisers wearing three piece business suits explaining the virtues of political action committees.

The problem with licensing the locksmith industry was obvious, at least it was to me; it turned a free market enterprise into a state run bureaucracy in which the individual no longer was master of his/her destiny. It has proven to be a train wreck destroying individual rights ever since .

The ALOA has moved ever further from its mission to educate locksmiths regarding techniques to bypass lock mechanisms and manipulation of hardware over the years. We now get updated legislative news, wiring diagrams, computer linking hints and video surveillance industry updates; and yes, an occasional locksmith related article to satisfy old timers like me.

Locksmiths have been marginalized in favor of ALOA’s broader mission, representing a conglomerate of security industries to include alarm servicing and remote camera surveillance installation and maintenance. I figure it’s time to get back to basics; if the ALOA won’t represent locksmiths then form a new body, one which reflects the fiercely independent individual tradesman/businessmen who make a living tinkering with locks.

I looked on the internet for a group to satisfy the need; mostly to see what name to run with, not wishing to accidentally borrow a name already in use. There was a group over in the UK, Independent Locksmith Association, which came close to what I had in mind. It lacked the American “spit in your eye” individualism I was looking for so as of today, July 1, 2010 I’m creating the Fiercely Independent Locksmiths of America (FILOA).

I will be looking for fellow locksmiths to join with me in establishing a set of bylaws, a constitution if you will, that will encourage other locksmiths to consider such an undertaking. There have to be plenty of disgusted members of other locksmith associations, folks ready to “step outside” and duke it out with the endless bureaucracy minded leadership we now face. There will be an official site, banner and mission statement along with articles directed towards improving locksmith skills. I look forward to working with other locksmiths who are fed up with being fed up. Drop me a line in the comment section or get with me via email; I’m not hard to find, T. F. Stern.

The Moral Lib­eral asso­ciate edi­tor, T.F. Stern, is a retired City of Hous­ton police offi­cer, self-employed lock­smith, and gifted polit­i­cal and social com­men­ta­tor. His pop­u­lar and insight­ful blog, T.F. Sterns Rant­i­ngs, has been up and at it since Jan­u­ary of 2005.

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