Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 1, 2011

MANDATORY GUN PURCHASES IN SOUTH DAKOTA?.... Apparently hoping to make some kind of political point about health care, several lawmakers in South Dakota have proposed requiring adults in the state to purchase a firearm after turning 21. (thanks to reader J.S. for the tip)

The bill, which would take effect Jan. 1, 2012, would give people six months to acquire a firearm after turning 21. The provision does not apply to people who are barred from owning a firearm.

Nor does the measure specify what type of firearm. Instead, residents would pick one "suitable to their temperament, physical capacity, and preference."

The measure is known as an act "to provide for an individual mandate to adult citizens to provide for the self defense of themselves and others."

The lead sponsor, a Republican named Hal Wick, apparently doesn't take his own legislation seriously, and is pushing the measure as some kind of political statement.

"Do I or the other cosponsors believe that the State of South Dakota can require citizens to buy firearms? Of course not. But at the same time, we do not believe the federal government can order every citizen to buy health insurance," Wick said.

John Cole noted in response, "I'm not sure how exactly that proves his point, but I'm not a wingnut, so wingnut logic doesn't work on me."

I'm stuck with the same reaction. I mean, sure, I see the gist of the point -- government-required purchases vs. government-required purchases -- but the argument just doesn't stand up well.

The health care insurance mandate is part of a larger reform law that regulates the national health care system, legally permissible at the federal level through the Commerce Clause, and as Mitt Romney can tell you, legally permissible at the state level, too. As a practical matter, there's no meaningful difference between this and mandatory car insurance, mandatory flood insurance in coastal areas, or mandatory property insurance imposed on some factory owners.

How is this the equivalent of forcing South Dakotans to buy a gun?

Steve Benen 12:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (48)

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How many of the folks that support this bill are also "up in arms"' about the health care mandate?

Posted by: Simp on February 1, 2011 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

I propose that all elected politicians have a yearly sanity checkup.

Posted by: DAY on February 1, 2011 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Look you assholes, if you make me buy a gun, you'd better have universal health care available for those of us who might not draw 'cause we know we ain't John Wayne, and get shot by one of you who thinks he/she is.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on February 1, 2011 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

You might do better to stop trying to make sense of things that simply don't make any sense. Keep pointing out the ridiculousness of it, but if you try to make sense of it, you will drive yourself insane. (Ironically, then it will start to make sense!)

Posted by: atlliberal on February 1, 2011 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

So you're arguing for a one party system -
and even that one will be decimated.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on February 1, 2011 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

The health care insurance mandate is part of a larger reform law that regulates the national health care system, legally permissible at the federal level through the Commerce Clause...

Big asumption...in which a couple of federal judges say not true and a couple of federal judges say it is....

Posted by: rocko on February 1, 2011 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Well, how's a man supposed to exercise his "Second Amendment Rights" if he doesn't have a gun? For that matter, why wait until 21? A South Dakotan can vote at the age of 18, so he (or his folks) oughta be made to buy his "piece" when he turns 18. Otherwise, you're just depriving him of his Constitutional Rights for three years.

Posted by: zandru on February 1, 2011 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

gulag, you'll note Marx (the Chico one) said "there ain't no Sanity Clause.."

Posted by: MR Bill on February 1, 2011 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

EVERYONE needs a gun, it will make certain society becomes very polite, just like Tombstone
was about the time of the OK Corral. Of course, we will need rules for gun fights, instead of random gun battles in bars or shootings on street corners like we have now, I suggest bringing back dueling but putting them on TV... Sort of like the Jerry Springer show but with guns.

To paraphras Shaw, Guns are necessary to the health of a community. Cops use them to control crime. People go to gun ranges to shoot targets so they can reduce stress which they cannot otherwise handle. Guns enable the army to invade countries in the dead of night, a thing no sane person would do at ten in the morning. IS IT the weapons makers' fault that this inestimable gift is deplorably abused by less than 1% of the population.

Just remember, as the Beatles once said, "Happiness is a warm gun."

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on February 1, 2011 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

I'm still trying to wrap my mind around, "suitable to their temperament, physical capacity, and preference."

Posted by: SaintZak on February 1, 2011 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

First of all, I hope that they are appropriating money for the lawsuit that will follow.

Second: It's all a plot to get you registered and into the government system. North Dakota will be the first state in the nation in which every adult over 21 (why not 18?) is completley registered with background checks and everything. When our soviet masters come and take their guns from their soon to be cold dead fingers, they will have a shopping list thanks to the great state of South Dakota.

Posted by: martin on February 1, 2011 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

We have the health insurance mandate so that we're all covered. Now we have the gun mandate so we're all...umm...covered?

I think we have this covered generally under that other socialist program known as "The Police".

Is the GOP against the police?

Posted by: bignose on February 1, 2011 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

The government CAN make laws requiring all sorts of things. The question is whether it's wise to.

Oops, for a moment I thought I was engaging in a discussion with a sane person.

Posted by: Dave Munger on February 1, 2011 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Its a stupid comparison because if the State of South Dakota does not have the power to require its citizens to purchase guns it is due to the state constitution, not the Federal Constitution.

Posted by: MattS on February 1, 2011 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Not to mention that the constitutionality of a sub-state jurisdiction mandating gun ownership is already basically settled. See Kennesaw, GA (which has required it for about 30 years).

So why wouldn't it be constitutional for SD to do so....

Righties just can't be bothered to do basic research.

Posted by: j.e.b. on February 1, 2011 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

I don't get your analogies. No one has to buy a car, buy a house in a flood area, or buy a factory. So car, flood and liability insurance are not comparable to health insurance.

More telling though with regard to this specific stunt, to pass a law requiring people to purchase guns, is that the Militia Act of 1792 required all males over the age of 18 to both join the militia and purchase a firearm. It is clear then that our Founding Fathers did not see anything in the Constitution that would prevent Congress from passing a law that required people to purchase guns.

Posted by: Alan on February 1, 2011 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

I was trapped in a room this morning with The View on and Mitt a guest. Someone asked about the health care in Mass. that he championed. He went on to talk about the 10th amendment hoping to deflect the question. I guess he figured the ladies wouldn't know where to go with that. I was tempted to yell social security at the screen but alas I couldn't get a word in.

Posted by: hornblower on February 1, 2011 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Actually an interesting precedent - Congress approved and President Washington signed the Militia Act of 1792, which among other things required every "free able-bodied white male citizen" to purchase a gun and ammunition. See http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/joe_conason/2010/03/25/militia for the story.

Posted by: DrT on February 1, 2011 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Once one realizes that the word "Republican" is a synonym for "drooling moron," all this public celebration of ignorance makes sense. These people really are a separate species - homo sap - as opposed to homo sapiens like the rest of us.

Posted by: TCinLA on February 1, 2011 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

This brilliant concept by yet another Republican official, this time in South Dakota, is further evidence that it is increasingly impossible nowadays to refrain from screaming out the word SCHMUCK!

Posted by: Buffalo Harold on February 1, 2011 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

Hell, you'd think at least a couple of the ND lawmakers have seen Forrest Gump, and realize stupid is as stupid does!

But alas, they've obviously Gumped themselves when it comes to common sense! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on February 1, 2011 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Oh. I meant the lawmakers due south of ND! (My Bad!) -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on February 1, 2011 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

I kinda hope this law passes just to see what, if any, kind of backlash ensues.

Posted by: MattS on February 1, 2011 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

A compromise is possible if cooler heads prevail.

Citizens can be given the choice of purchasing either a firearm or health insurance.

Posted by: Al on February 1, 2011 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

We are not being "FORCED" to buy anything...we just don't get the tax break if we don't have it...kind of like we are not forced to have children but we get a tax break if we do.

Just like mandatory auto liability I don't want to be driving down the freeway surrounded by drivers who don't have ins...I also don't want to be surrounded by people who don't have health ins who might be carrying diseases I could catch but don't know it cause they don't have access to a Dr. except when it's an emergency room treatment and could virtually be too late.

Who benefits??? If the ACA is so bad then why are private ins. cos spending millions to get rid of it?

One of the main reasons Medicare is so costly is because it only covers the elderly and disabled. who turn out to have the most need for medical care. But imagine if the risk were shared by everyone...we were all covered by Medicare operating at a 3% overhead cost...our HC ins. would be so solvent that it would even cover Dental and Eye care at very little cost. We have solutions but the greedy continue to try to kill our efforts. Idiots with anger issues.

Posted by: bjobotts on February 1, 2011 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

I guess nothings going to change until some people realize how bad their ideas are by implementing them.

Posted by: Kill Bill on February 1, 2011 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

But the true liberal idea wouldn't be to just mandate people to buy guns off their own dime anyway - it would be to have an insurance program to cover the cost and spread it out with subsidies or taxation like Medicare as percent of income. If the government can do that, tax everyone some tiny percent of income and then buy everyone guns with it, I might be OK with that since poorer folks could then have firearms! Maybe they'd need them if the plutocratic oligarchy gets too much further entrenched and outrageous.

Posted by: neil b. on February 1, 2011 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

What's really perverse here is that the Second Amendment does allow the state to require you to buy a firearm,

that's it's specific and only intention.

It gives the individual state, not the person, complete discretion over how you can and cannot own a gun.

Posted by: cld on February 1, 2011 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

How is this the equivalent of forcing South Dakotans to buy a gun?

It's simple. Every South Dakotan eventually seeks a gun but those that don't own one simply go the emergency gun depot at which time they are provided the gun required for their purposes with no initial charge. Oftentimes, they are unable to subsequently pay the bill for the gun previously acquired pushing the cost of guns up for the rest of the gun-purchasing market. As such, a mandate for these free-loading gun-acquirers must be put in place so that the average gun-purchasing South Dakotan isn't burdened by the ever increasing costs of guns. Get it now?

Posted by: OB on February 1, 2011 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

This could almost make sense, if the government did not already provide for the safety of its citizens through various community, county, and state wide agencies. Similarly, if the government already provided for the health care of it's citizens, the individual mandte would not be necessary.

Posted by: mrgumby2u on February 1, 2011 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

I think this sarcastic "see, just deserts" ploy by some Republicans shows a fundamental difference in thinking styles. To conservatives, the form of a government action is paramount (in conceptual thinking as stated, not so much what they actually support in practice.) So, if the government can make you do X, then why couldn't they make you do Y too and that's a problem. It's the "make you" that drives them.

But to liberals, the difference between X and Y is what matters. If X is a good but not Y, then we can see to the government mandating X and not Y (as e.g. per the arguments above etc. explaining why heath care is so worth providing but maybe not gun ownership.)

"Fine minds make fine distinctions."

Posted by: neil b on February 1, 2011 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

The Second Amendment is of course based on communal good - the need for militias - not individual rights. There would thus be no Constitutional objection for requiring every person likely to be in the militia to own his own musket.

What this really shows is how absurd the 2nd Amendment is in today's world.

Posted by: skeptonomist on February 1, 2011 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Sigh. Once again: In 1792, the US government passed a law, duly signed by George Washington, that required private citizens to guy a product -- guns -- so they'd be ready for militia duty.

The beliefs of the conservative cult just get farther and farther from objective reality.

Posted by: Gregory on February 1, 2011 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

How much do these mother-fucking dillholes pull down in salary to legislate this bullshit fucking nonsense?
Stop wasting taxpayer money you wastes of skin.

Posted by: ckelly on February 1, 2011 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Reasons Democrats should elevate this to the Federal level?

1. It would obliterate the "Obama's gonna steal our guns" canard.

2. It would play into the dime store kind of conservative thought we see today by outsourcing defense to the citizenry and draw a striking parallel to the health care mandate. Call it the Affordable Defense Act.

Of course we would need to tack on some safeguards, but we could throw that one back into the faces of the repugnicons.

Posted by: Fr33d0m on February 1, 2011 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

And just in case you fail to see the whole picture, we could then protest it calling it the kill your liberal grandmother plan.

Posted by: Fr33d0m on February 1, 2011 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Will there be financial assitance for those who can't afford a weapon? What if I want to by a LARGE gun, like a howitzer? Will they help me get one?

Posted by: Vandal on February 1, 2011 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

If you already own a gun, do you get a rebate?

Posted by: josef on February 1, 2011 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

I don't swee the problem with requiring everyone in South Dakota to have a gun. But I'd rather see everyone in Texas be required to have on.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on February 1, 2011 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

I like the idea of allowing people to choose to either buy a gun or health insurance. Of course, there should be an extra fee attached for those who want to purchase both, just so they know they won't have a free ride if they want to shoot themselves and then have the wound tended to.

Posted by: kenderman on February 1, 2011 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Am I allowed to bear nuclear arms? How about chemical weapons? Can I drive around in my truck with a daisycutter on the flatbed? How about a bazooka? RPG? Is the Second Amendment without limit? Where does this fuckin' madness end?

Posted by: Sam Simple on February 1, 2011 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

I want a real big one, with a big, fast clip -- can't see too good anymore, so have to rely on speed and multiple chance, not on sniper skill. And I want a senior citizen discount. A Medigun, if you will.

Posted by: exlibra on February 1, 2011 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans are the champs when it comes to wasting time while on the public dole. Behold!, your tax dollars at work.

Posted by: June on February 1, 2011 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Wick's clever provocation makes no sense at all. The argument that the individual mandate is unconstitutional is based on the limits imposed on the US Congress by the Constitution and especially the 10th amendment. The 10th amendment doesn't impose any limits on the South Dakota State legislature.

The 14th does "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

as does Article IV

But it is very clear that Wick's silly bill is consistent with the US Constitution.

This is blindingly obvious as similar laws existed in all states at the time of the ratification of the Constitution. All able bodied free White Men between age this and age that were required to enroll in the militia and posess a gun. That was the law then.

Of course it is just as obvious that the founders thought the Federal Government could force people to obtain guns. George Washington was one of the more important founders and he signed the 2nd militia act which was much pickier than Wick's witless bill.

"That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective states, resident therein, who is or shall be of the age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia [skip] That every citizen so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter,How to be armed and accoutred. provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch with a box therein to contain not less than twenty-four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball: or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder; and shall appear, so armed, accoutred and provided, when called out to exercise, or into service, except, that when called out on company days to exercise only, he may appear without a knapsack. 1803, ch. 15.


Signed George Washington (who was a leading expert on the original intent of the founders)


Posted by: Robert Waldmann on February 1, 2011 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

So if this turns out to be constitutional, wouldn't that throw water on the whole ACA lawsuit?

Posted by: Mike on February 1, 2011 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

What's hilarious about this: Some Cons had a knee-jerk idea, and didn't really think it through. My guess is that they will pull the bill before it's voted on precisely BECAUSE it is legal, and they don't want to highlight the precedents do they?

Posted by: JWK on February 1, 2011 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

It's the first step towards replacing the healthcare bill. The next stage will be a law allowing people to shoot anyone who's been deemed too ill or with pre-existing conditions. It's perfectly humane. It'll be called the Old Yeller law.

Posted by: Jeremy Holland on February 2, 2011 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

"I'm still trying to wrap my mind around, 'suitable to their temperament, physical capacity, and preference'."
Posted by: SaintZak on February 1, 2011 at 12:54 PM

They clearly left out "and mental capacity and health, or lack thereof."
Maybe adding such wording would have made the bill take up more than one full page; can't have that y'know.
(With their constituencies, I'm amazed they can read even a single page of text at one sitting. Then again, it's easier when actual comprehension and retention aren't necessarily involved.)

Posted by: smartalek on February 2, 2011 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK



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