30 years is a long time to run a business, longer than many millennials have been alive. For the entirety of our lifetimes, Shayne Gatlin has run a successful locksmith business in Texas. He built up an impressive customer base of over 100,000 people and grew his company assets. The American dream. There’s just one problem – occupational licensing.
In 2004, Texas began regulating locksmithing. Gatlin now had to obtain a license to do a job he’d successfully done for years. Gatlin’s license was awarded and renewed each year until 2017. Last year the Department of Public Safety denied his application. Why? Because of a 37-year-old conviction.
In 1980, Gatlin was convicted for being the getaway driver in a home invasion. He was a teenager and served five years on probation. Since then, he’s built a successful life for himself without criminal activity. But Texas regulations prevent someone with a criminal background from obtaining a license in security fields, including locksmithing. Thirty years in business and 12 years of licensing haven’t been enough to overturn the denial and Gatlin has been without a locksmith license for more than six months.
This is just one example of how occupational licensing affects people with criminal records. Licensing is unduly burdensome on those without a criminal history, but its restrictions are more devastating to former convicts. Stable employment cuts down on recidivism. Stable employment is the goal of many like Gatlin. Hard-workers should be allowed to contribute to the economy without harmful restrictions.