I believe that Benjamin Franklin, and I'm probably paraphrasing here due to the effects of too much of the voluntarily administered deadly poison alcohol, said it best: "Those who would trade a measure of freedom for a measure of security deserve neither." Trading freedoms, no matter how trivial they seem, leads to tyranny. Full stop. That is a fact of human history that is only refuted by Utopian idealists that ignore the fact that people who really want power are usually also really bad people, and the other observable fact that the happiest people are regulated least. The founding fathers of this great nation knew that well, because they were in the situation in the most desperate of all possible ways, and unfortunately, that spirit gets diluted with every move towards "safety" and "the welfare of the community". Nothing illustrates this more than the first two amendments to the Constitution, which identify political speech and the right to defend oneself from a tyrannical government with military weapons as the *most* important. Read the Federalist Papers for perspectives on these issues.
When people live in fear of some consequence to their actions, deadly or otherwise, and they ignore the creeping death that comes from a society living under the yoke of an authoritarian government, they reflexively submit to even greater oppression. While helmet laws are a minor issue, they are a step - and the reference to Chairman Mao is intentional. Look at the faces of peoples from authoritarian cultures and tell me whether you too want that haunted, hunted, persecuted look on your face.