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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Guns & Tobacco Mandate

In my post yesterday regarding the health care mandate, I suggested that if the courts held that the health care mandate were constitutional, then the Congress would have the power to declare weekly Blue Light Mandates.

Given the potentially sweeping Congressional power to impose mandates, I asked readers to come up with some suggestions as to mandates they would like to see imposed.

After all, the day will come when Republicans control both the Congress and the White House, so we need to be ready at 3 a.m. on Day One.

Here is the winning suggestion, from reader Malclave:
Mandate that all US citizens must annually purchase one handgun, rifle, or shotgun.

While we're at it, everyone should be required to purchase 2 packs of cigarettes a week. Smoking them, of course, will be illegal.
Under the legal reasoning of the supporters of the health care mandate, I believe the Guns & Tobacco Mandate would pass constitutional muster.

The right to keep and bear arms specifically is protected by the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Since firearms are manufactured using metals and other materials shipped in interstate commerce, and are shipped across state lines, the federal government has a legitimate interest in regulating such activities, consistent with the Second Amendment. The mandated purchase of firearms would help maintain a well-functioning national weapons manufacturing and sales market, and thereby would further a legitimate governmental purpose.

As to tobacco, the fertilizer used to grow the tobacco is shipped in interstate commerce, as are the leaves for processing and manufactured end product. The ban on smoking the product once purchased also would be constitutional, since smoking contributes to health care costs which are assumed or subsidized by the federal government. Since heavy taxes are levied on tobacco, including taxes used to fund health care services, the government has a legitimate purpose in maintaining a steady flow of purchases and making sure the cancer sticks were not smoked.

Although not stated in Malclave's proposal, I believe it is implicit that in the event a citizen or alien lawfully present in the United States failed to make such purchases, there would be a tax imposed based upon how evil the person was, as expressed numerically by his or her adjusted gross income.

Hence, the Guns & Tobacco Mandate really is just a tax, so it's all good.

I would add one procedural nuance to the Guns & Tobacco Mandate:

We will pass it through budget reconciliation if Democrats try to filibuster.
Of course, the Guns & Tobacco Mandate would not actually improve the lives of the American people any more so than will the health care mandate. But that is not the measure of constitutionality.

As the health care mandate demonstrates, stupid stuff devised by arrogant elitist control freaks who think they know better than the rest of us how we should live our lives, can be constitutional.

The Guns & Tobacco Mandate is the mandate we have been waiting for. The look on liberals' faces will be priceless.

And it definitely would be a big f-ing deal.

Related Posts:
We Need "Blue Light" Mandates
Freedom So Willingly Relinquished
Taxing Your Mere Existence

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  1. Works for me!! I'll be especially happy to comply with the firearms segment. We've been doing that here in the sawth for years anyway ... y'all. :))

  2. Thing is, a decent gun can be bought for a few hundred bucks. A family health insurance policy is going to cost something like $15,000 per year. That's a significant fraction of a middle class family's income. In practical terms, Obama has just rendered a large swath of the middle class indentured servants for a day or two of the week, required to work those days just to pay an insurance company for something the family doesn't necessarily want and certainly cannot afford.

  3. Actually, I think mandating personal purchases of guns is the wrong approach.

    Rather, given that I am now required, via taxation, to provide for some new "right" to health care for others (even illegals), I suggest that anti-gun Democrats be required to purchase, through taxation, firearms for all American citizens (one per year).

    If the government can confiscate my private property to pay for a "right" to health care nowhere to be found in the Constitution, surely it can confiscate somebody else's private property to purchase for me the firearm I am explicitly entitled to keep and bear, per the Second Amendment. Right?

  4. Heh. Don't let the Leftists get wind of this or they'll legislate against purchasing these - for the good of the people, of course, since
    guns kill (not the people using them), and "cancer sticks" as you say.....self-explanatory. Both are ripe for a health-related ban.

    Hold the thought. Come November: we'll remember. :)

  5. CtheP, that's exactly what I think, regarding the "right" issue. If they go that route, they will be saying that, because "healthcare" is a right, we are entitled to protect that right by requiring everyone to exercise that right (by buying health insurance), and so it would go for guns, and any other supposed "rights" (education, voting, etc.) that we have. They are mandating in the name of protecting rights; strange, indeed.

    On another note, does anyone know if the mandate has any teeth? What will happen to those of us who refuse to buy? Thanks in advance.

  6. I actually think the government has more of a right to mandate guns through it's interstate commerce clause power, than healthcare. Guns are at least made in states that are different than the ones that they are sold, and there is interstate commerce involved.

    With healthcare, unless you include the training of doctors, the crossing of interstate borders in the transportation of drugs and medical equipment, etc... the mandate is purely intrastate. Since the statute does not allow people to get healthcare across state borders, you are stuck getting healthcare within your state. That, in turn, means the mandate has zero interstate commerce components, and as a result, violates the parameters of the interstate commerce jurisprudence.

  7. Sorry, one more thing. Sure, they say it's "just a tax." Then, doesn't it have to be apportioned as such?: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2009/12/Why-the-Personal-Mandate-to-Buy-Health-Insurance-Is-Unprecedented-and-Unconstitutional

  8. Deborah, I think it's even more insidious than that.

    Years ago while a grad student, I was having a discussion with a hard-core socialist professor (Ph.D. in Philosophy from Harvard, I was told) at a social event. After a bit, I finally asked him what he thought society owed people. He said that society should provide for the necessities (food, clothing, shelter, etc.) and that people should work only if they wanted to.

    I was so dumbfounded (and dulled by a few beers) that I didn't ask him -- what if nobody wants to work? What about the morality of taking the fruits of one person's labor to give to another? Didn't we used to call that slavery?

    That episode came to mind a week or two ago when that idiot Pelosi stated that healthcare would mean that artists (and others) wouldn't have to keep a job they don't like so they could maintain their health insurance.

    In Pelosi's mind, if you don't like your job, no worries -- the govenment will confiscate somebody else's wealth to provide for you and your family.

    They don't want people to have to shoulder any responsibility for their and their families' welfare. They know that with rights come responsibility.

    They also know that people with no responsibilities have no rights (except, in their minds, to the property of others -- but that will run out soon enough, as Greece is finding out).

  9. CtheP:

    Completely agree about 'what if nobody wants to work?' If every citizen simultaneously decided that they no longer liked working and leaned totally on the state for support, the system would make a short, pained grunting noise and rapidly implode. This is the core irrationality of the incentive system in a welfare state that liberals seem constitutionally (hee) unable to grasp.

    Prof J;

    Methinks the author of that NEJM piece you link to doesn't really grasp what the term 'mandate' means. From m-w.com, 'to mandate' is "to make mandatory". The law makes mandatory *some* sort of financial burden, whether by direct purchase of a health plan or by tax penalty. This seems very straightforward to me...

  10. What I find amusing is that you could 'sell' the gun mandate as national deficit reduction since crime rates would plummet and cities, states and the Fed could reduce their law enforcement costs because of that.


  11. A firearm mandate already exists:


  12. What if I can't afford to pay for that gun and those cigs? Will there be consequences? Let's be sure to include some serious consequences in our mandate.

  13. William,

    I love the absurdities that have been brought up. If you want to bring up some more, then read United States vs. Butler and others.

    The justices ripped into the Agriculture Adjustment Act and mentioned a few absurd situations regarding what else could happen.

    After reading the judgment and with my limited understanding, I feel confident that the SCOTUS will take the same view as in Butler. If they did not take that view then they would be overturning Butler. I do not think that they will do that.

    Anyway as a teaser from that case:

    "From the accepted doctrine that the United States is a government of delegated powers, it follows that those not expressly granted, or reasonably to be implied from such as are conferred, are reserved to the states or to the people. To forestall any suggestion to the contrary, the Tenth Amendment was adopted. The same proposition, otherwise stated, is that powers not granted are prohibited. None to regulate agricultural production is given, and therefore legislation by Congress for that purpose is forbidden.

    It is an established principle that the attainment of a prohibited end may not be accomplished under the pretext of the exertion of powers which are granted."


    "It is said that Congress has the undoubted right to appropriate money to executive officers for expenditure under contracts between the government and individuals; that much of the total expenditures is so made. But appropriations and expenditures under contracts for proper governmental purposes cannot justify contracts which are not within federal power. And contracts for the reduction of acreage and the control of production are outside the range of that power. An appropriation to be expended by the United States under contracts calling for violation of a state law clearly would offend the Constitution.

    Is a statute less objectionable which authorizes expenditure of federal moneys to induce action in a field in which the United States has no power to intermeddle? The Congress cannot invade state jurisdiction to compel individual action; no more can it purchase such action.
    We are referred to numerous types of federal appropriation which have been made in the past, and it is asserted no question has been raised as to their validity. We need not stop to examine or consider them."

    The judgment discusses a variety of other cases. The case law prevails when determining the powers of the Federal government and even when considering the "commerce clause"

    It is not interstate commerce.....

  14. I like the guns & tobacco mandate. Also, don't forget about the red wine mandate. Everyone in the USA must purchase one bottle of red wine each week or pay a fine to the government, which in turn will provide bottles of red wine to consumers unable to afford it. The justification for this is simple: people who drink 4-7 ounces of red wine a day live longer than those who do not imbibe. There are many, many opportunities for graft (which red wine will the government distribute) and abuse (receipt forgeries).

    I really like this idea

  15. Wow. I'm honored to be cited in a main post.

    Regarding Conrad Bibby's concerns above, my goal was less about the amount of money than in trying to figure out what mandated purchase would drive the Left absolutely nuts.

    As to the penalty implicit for noncompliance, I figured there's a couple of thousand pages for things like that. The important thing is that we need to pass the mandate so we can see what's in it.

  16. I like the guns & tobacco mandate. Also, don't forget about the red wine mandate.

    That clearly puts the mandate under the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.