Wednesday, February 02, 2011

South Dakota legislators introduce bill requiring all adults to buy a gun

Five Republican lawmakers in South Dakota have introduced a bill that, if passed, would require all adults over the age of 21 to purchase a firearm "sufficient to provide for their ordinary self-defense":

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."

Rep. Hal Wick, R-Sioux Falls, is sponsoring the bill and knows it will be killed. But he said he is introducing it to prove a point that the federal health care reform mandate passed last year is unconstitutional.

"Do I or the other co-sponsors 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," he said.

First, being armed is not the same as having health insurance. We're living in a society, as George Costanza said, not in some Hobbesian state of nature.

Second, the conservative argument that the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate is unconstitutional is deeply flawed. (And the two activist rulings, in Virginia and Florida, against the mandate were both deeply partisan.)

Third... well, here's Jack Balkin:

The irony, of course, is that this is an example of what the federal government could require citizens to do at the founding. All able bodied male citizens were part of the militia, and therefore were required to bear arms in defense of the state. In fact, the federal government passed a militia act in 1792 that required that every citizen purchase a weapon and ammunition.

Oops. Nice try, idiotic South Dakota Republicans.

Balkin again, utterly and brilliantly destroying conservative opposition to the mandate: 

What is lost in the debate over the individual mandate is that the point of the individual mandate is also civic republican in nature. It requires citizens to make a far less significant but also public-spirited sacrifice on behalf of other Americans who cannot afford health insurance. Individuals must join health insurance risk pools to make health care affordable for more of their fellow citizens. This is a very modest request that individuals not be entirely selfish and that they contribute to the public good in a small way by helping to make health care accessible and affordable for all Americans. Indeed, under the terms of the Affordable Care Act, one doesn't even have to purchase insurance; one can simply pay a small tax instead. And one doesn't have to pay at all if one is too poor to do so or has a religious objection.

The notion that being asked to either buy health insurance and make health care accessible for one's fellow citizens--or to pay a small tax-- is a form of tyranny akin to George III's regime is simply bizarre: it shows how perverted and twisted public discourse has become in the United States. The assault on the individual mandate is really an assault on the public duty to assist other Americans in need, and in particular, an assault on the legal obligation to pay taxes to contribute to the general welfare. The assault on the health care bill is not a defense of liberty. It is a defense of selfishness. 

Which is pretty much what the Republican Party is all about, along with a complete lack of regard both for American history and for the Constitution they claim to love so dearly.

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