I completely understand your sentiments on government intervention, and basically agree with them. I would ask that you think about this in a slightly different way though. You have a hobby as a Ham Radio operator. In order to operate your station (excuse me if my terminology is off) you have educated yourself, shown competence and been granted a license. How would you feel if anyone with a spare $xxxx thousand dollars, could buy the equipment and start broadcasting on any channel they liked? Chances are there broadcasts wouldn't kill or injure anyone else (although it could if they tied up the wrong channel as often happens with VHF 16), but it would interfere with your pastime and may interfere with your ability to coordinate rescue efforts as I believe you posted you do.
Actually, I have mentioned this already - in a round-about sort of way. Anyone CAN go out and purchase any sort of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment and do just what you said. In fact, they have done so. Could they kill someone? They might not be directly able to do so (unless they were flying say, radio controlled airplanes... by the way did you all know that you have to have a million dollars worth of insurance to do this? Did you know that you have to have a Ham Radio Operator's license for most of the transmitters, except the cheap crap?)
Could someone flying a small model plane kill someone? Yup.
So... my hobby is no different from boating in that respect. The only difference is, I borrow my spectrum from time to time, use it and give it back - just as you borrow the channel on the way out to the sea, and then give it back.
I have to be licensed not to borrow or use the radio - but to know when it is ok to use that spectrum and how not to interfere with other services on the air.
If there were no licensing (and by the way there are people who advocate NO LICENSING in ANY part of the RF spectrum!) then anyone could go willy nilly across and through the whole spectrum with dirty transmissions preventing everyone from using it.
I've already compared my licensing a bit with a "boaters license" - and to some extent I agree that there should be some kind of classes for safety. But that's all. Not a "license".
In the 1970s a young boy got on a ham radio and stated that he and his dad were in a car accident. They had crashed. The car was upside down, dad was either injured or dead and he was trapped in the car.
The broadcasts went on for days and days and finally faded out. I wasn't a ham in those days, but I understood what was happening.
The media began to believe it was a hoax. It took about two weeks before the calls died out completely.
The car, the dad and the perpetrator were never found. To this day, no one knows who the kid was, why he did it, but in the end he claimed to be starving to death.
This activity tied up search and rescue, helicopters, airplanes, the Civil Air Patrol and hundreds of searchers for many days, cost many thousands of dollars.
The point is - he had the equipment to cause the problems and he was most likely NOT licensed (if he was he'd have lost his license, been fined heavily and most likely he'd have been arrested for other legal issues). Because he had the equipment and was able to broadcast for so long on and off without being found, I think he probably had a lot education on how to avoid being found.
So - a little knowledge goes a long way, in both directions. I don't remember enough details about the incident to know if he was VHF or HF radio, but I suspect given my knowledge now it was HF.
I suppose - all in all - learning and knowing are all part and parcel to being safe in your respective and chosen hobbies. Don't forget there are dangers in RF radiation as well and part of our 'training' includes knowing something about that. But, it doesn't prevent me from doing something stupid if I chose to ignore either regulations or common sense.
There is a definite line between too much government interference (which I believe has been crossed numerous times) and regulation of public areas for the general good. If you (public at large, not Rick or Mark specifically) want to kill yourself go ahead, however, when your ignorance places my family or me at risk, unfortunately, the government needs to step in and start regulating.
I think this right here is certainly part of the issue here.
We had a discussion on another site I frequent about someone shooting his bow and arrow in the back yard. The area was a rural area and the boys shooting the bow were being completely safe.
It turned out the neighbor didn't like weapons of any sort. He called the Sheriff. There was no law against what the boys were doing... so the neighbor who turned out to be on the country commission proposed a new "ordinance" to make it illegal to shoot bows and arrows. No one could see a reason to NOT pass the law.
The next time the kids were practicing, they were arrested.
Simple, easy fix. huh?