hould owning a gun be mandatory? Five South Dakota state lawmakers have introduced a bill that would create an "individual mandate" requiring all eligible residents 21 and over to own a firearm "suitable to their temperament, physical capacity, and preference." Lead sponsor Rep. Hal Wick (R) says he doesn't actually want the bill to pass, but is hoping to illustrate why the federal government can't "order every citizen to buy health insurance." Is this initiative a "clever gambit" to show up the Democrats' health care law, or just a pointless stunt? (Watch an MSNBC report about the bill)
The bill makes its point cleverly: This bill is probably a "waste of time" for the state legislature, says Miranda Flint in South Dakota Politics. But as a "hypothetical scenario," it does a great job of showing "what sort of precedent the health care mandate could set." If the feds can force us to buy health insurance, why not guns or, say, birth control? Conservatives have to do something this brazen, since "Democrats, have, by and large, been unmoved by [other] arguments."
"Mulling over mandates"
Wick is making the wrong point: There are several reasons why this "stupid political stunt" is misguided, says Doug Mataconis in Outside the Beltway. The biggest is that state governments probably can "require gun ownership," as Mitt Romney's Massachusetts required people to buy health insurance. What the federal government can and can't do will be decided by the courts. In the meantime, "this little bill doesn’t prove anything and just makes its advocates look silly."
"South Dakota law would require all citizens own a gun"
The bill is politically tone-deaf: Wick's got "a valid argument," but using guns to make it "may wind up backfiring on him," says Jazz Shaw in Hot Air. Especially after the Tucson shooting, proposing a gun mandate "plays to the popular, media driven theme of 'gun nuts'" and gun control, and derails the conversation we should be having, about whether the Constitution allows the federal government to require things, rather than just allow them.
"Is South Dakota trying to mandate gun ownership?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Mad Men recap: 'A Day's Work'
- The sexual politics of Game of Thrones just got enormously worse
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 10 things you need to know today: April 21, 2014
- Aereo at the Supreme Court: No matter what, broadcasters lose
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- The case for killing law school
- Wounded in Boston, two brothers endure
- The hidden reason for the student loan crisis
Subscribe to the Week