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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The One Thing Missing From The Gun Mandate

Everyone is all excited because some South Dakota legislators have proposed a mandate requiring each citizen to own a gun (h/t reader Brian):
Five South Dakota lawmakers have introduced legislation that would require any adult 21 or older to buy a firearm “sufficient to provide for their ordinary self-defense.”

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.”
They have left out one thing, which was proposed here by a reader 10 months ago, a Guns and Tobacco Mandate:
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.
The Guns & Tobacco proposal was subjected to a constitutional analysis here using the approach of Obamacare supporters to court challenges to thehealth care mandate, with the conclusion that if the Obamacare supporters were right, the Guns & Tobacco Mandate was constitutional:
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 [the reader'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.
Fortunately, based on Judge Vinson's ruling yesterday, the Obamacare supporters are not right; so mandating the purchase of health insurance, guns or tobacco remains beyond the power of the federal government.  For now.

But the states, on the other hand....

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  1. It was South Dakota--you have an error in your opening sentence.

    The initial bill was meant to be funny, but the reaction to it is even funnier.

  2. Actually, I suspect the firearm requirement is on much firmer ground than Obamacare, and could be legitimately mandated under the powers the states and Congress have over the militia. Glenn Reynolds says its been done .

  3. As a gun owner who has gone shooting with many people, I think this law would be a mistake on non-constitutional grounds as well. I am a strong advocate for gun ownership and believe everyone should get gun training at some point. But are many people who are just not temperamentally suited to guns.

    It boils down to this: if you aren't sure that you would/could shoot kill an attacker or would hesitate thus giving the attacker a reason and opportunity to shoot you, you should not own a gun.

    Requiring such people to buy a gun and expecting them to use it correctly would place them in greater danger than simply putting up their hands and putting themselves at the mercy of the attacker. The attacker, knowing that the victim is unarmed, would then have no reason to shoot the victim.

    I believe that a community where gun owners who know how to use a weapon and will use it correctly are safe communities. There is less gunfire and crime in these communities. This law does nothing to create such communities.

  4. As a resident of South Dakota, I am ashamed of my state.

    Not because of the bill, which I think is an awesome way to make a point about the insurance mandate.

    I am ashamed because so many others in my state are incapable of understanding satire. So many of the comments I saw yesterday were treating this like it was a serious attempt to make people buy guns.

  5. Each state could mandate that everyone in the state own certain products produced within the state.

    Some states don't allow you to bring certain products in. California doesn't allow oranges to be brought in from any state except Arizona (maybe Arizona is now on the no entry list too, being a bad state). Why not mandate that no one can leave the state without having certain products in their possession?

    Think what it would do to grow business and bring down unemployment. Alternatively it could be a good way to "thank" specified industries who have been good campaign contributors.

  6. As satire this "bill" works splendidly. I'm all in.

    If it were serious, it's ill-advised, IMO.

    First, because their powers are not enumerated, states *could* do this. However, it would be unwise and against the grain of getting governments and everyone, really, out of the habit of mandating.

    Pasadena Phil already mentioned the danger of forcing people to own weapons who don't know how to fight, or don't know how to use weapons or shy from them.

    Personally I'd be happy if everyone legally entitled, especially women, owned and carried a weapon. But any level of government mandating that they do, or even just to own one? No, that's nanny statism. Enable them but don't force them. And in any case, owning is not the point. Being able and willing to use it is the point, as Pasadena Phil points out.

    BTW, at least in the area where I reside, as many chaotics (lefty/liberals), especially young males, are buying and learning to use guns as are "right wing extremists." They're on the range firing lines together.

    There is one circumstance wherein, IMO, a level of government may and should mandate owning, carrying or proficiency in using, or all three, a weapon: when every citizen of a government's jurisdiction meeting physical and mental standards is required by law to train and participate in a militia sponsored and supported by that government. Swiss and Israelis support something like this. I'm in favor of states doing it here, but that's just my 1c.

    If the real purpose of this "bill" is satire, it appears ideally suited to the purpose. So many things today serve to mandate deconstruction of the ideology of deconstructionists, like they never saw that coming! (That was a smidgin of schadenfreude.)

  7. Virginia has a one handgun a month policy. It's been tough to keep up with that and I'm afraid I've run afoul of the commonwealth by not buying my one handgun per month. :)

  8. Such a law would probably not be unconstitutional for the Federal Government -- didn't the Militia Act 1792 require all able-bodied adult men to keep a musket or rifle and ammunition for it?

    Moreover, I think it would be certainly OK for a State or local government to mandate such a requirement. The Atlanta suburb of Kennesaw, Georgia has had such a law on the books since 1982.

  9. David R. Graham said...

    "BTW, at least in the area where I reside, as many chaotics (lefty/liberals), especially young males, are buying and learning to use guns as are "right wing extremists." They're on the range firing lines together."

    Same here. If there is one issue where Americans are united, it is the right to own weapons. It is not a liberal/conservative issue. It is a Constitutional right.

  10. You certainly would not want to smoke the cigarettes. We'll have to resort to using them as money before long.

  11. "You certainly would not want to smoke the cigarettes. We'll have to resort to using them as money before long."

    Thread winner!

  12. Ther Binson decision was based on the COmmerce Clause.

    However there is ample precedent, that the states cahred with providing a well regualted miltia can mandate weapon ownership of weapons suitable for miltia service. Moribund yes, but techinlly posible.

    see The Unorganized militia on my site.

  13. "It is not a liberal/conservative issue. It is a Constitutional right."

    ... grounded in an anterior inalienable, human condition: the law of expansion.

  14. Not only has it been done, but upheld in court.


  15. Why not also mandate the regular purchase of booze? Then it could be named the ATF Act of 2011.

    It would be a bad law, but a beautiful gesture.