Individual Mandate For Guns Not Unconstitutional Just Stupid

Bill Scher

Conservative lawmakers in South Dakota think they’ve found a brilliant way to provide that the provision in the health reform law requiring most everyone to obtain insurance is unconstitutional. The Argus-Leader reports:

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 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 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,” he said.

This may be news to Rep. Wick, but his bill will be killed not because it is unconstitutional. It will be killed because it is idiotic.

And this may be news to Rep. Wick and many of his conservative brethren, but there is a difference between an unconstitutional idea, and an idiotic idea.

There is no evidence whatsoever that a uniformly armed public would lead to longer, healthier lives. In turn, very few Americans are calling on Congress to pass legislation mandating gun purchases.

So even though under past Supreme Court precedent our Congress does have the power to regulate acts of commerce, such as mandating gun purchases, Congress has never done it because nobody wants them to.

This is called democracy. You may have heard of it. At least, our founders did.

Congress has done lots of things that I haven’t liked over the course of my lifetime. But the vast majority of the time, it was plainly evident that Congress had the power to do something that I didn’t like.

Whereas today’s conservatives have developed an entirely self-serving view of the Constitution that asserts Congress can’t do anything conservatives don’t like — create an universal retirement security system, protect the environment, establish a minimum wage.

But Congress can do whatever conservatives do like — ban abortions, prevent gays from serving in the military, cap awards for victims of illegal corporate behavior.

The only way conservatives can have this ridiculous ideology triumph is to pack the courts, which they have tried to do, and we are seeing the fruits of the labor in the conservative judicial activist rulings throwing out the health reform law.

They have only partially succeeded at the Supreme Court level. We can only hope that the transparently political nature of these lower court rulings will provide little enticement for Justice Anthony Kennedy to join the other Republican-nominated members of the Supreme Court and junk the fundamental underpinnings of our democratic government.

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