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February 1, 2011
South Dakota's Proposed Gun Ownership Mandate and Constitutional Ignorance
There's no doubt that conservatives' understanding of the Constitution surpasses that of liberals -- unfortunately, though, sometimes not by much. And a recent South Dakota bill brings this to light.
To drive home the point about the unconstitutionality of ObamaCare, legislators in The Mount Rushmore State have proposed a bill that would force residents to purchase a gun (shades of Kennesaw, Ga. here). Writes ArgusLeader.com, "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 sponsor of the bill, Rep. Hal Wick (R-Sioux Falls), knows the bill won't pass and apparently doesn't even want it to; as I indicated above, it's designed to make a point. Said Wick:
(I emphasize the protest nature of the bill because when I read the comments under the ArgusLeader.com piece, I found that one had to scroll down quite a ways before finding a respondent who read far enough into the 191-word news item to learn of that nature. Nice reading comprehension, fellas.)
Unfortunately, Americans' comprehension of the Constitution isn't any better. While I appreciate the spirit of the SD legislators' effort, they unwittingly give ObamaCare proponents ammunition by blurring an important distinction: that between the states and feds.
Under the US Constitution, SD absolutely can compel every resident to buy a firearm.
It is the federal government that may not.
This doesn't mean it's a good idea or the proper role of government, of course, but a return to adherence to the supreme law of the land (the Constitution) requires that we actually know what that law is.
If you wonder why I'm devoting ink to this story, it's because this very misunderstanding has been part of the ill wind beneath ObamaCare's demon wings. I speak of the argument that government's car insurance mandate is a precedent for such intrusive legislation.
This claim is rarely refuted properly. In fact, the argument was made on Fox News a while back, and I wanted to pull my hair out. Despite the fact that there were two attorneys in the segment -- Megyn Kelly and a guest -- it was allowed to stand. Now, call me crazy, but aren't lawyers actually supposed to, well, know the law? Oh, someone might have mentioned how driving is a privilege and that while we don't have to own a car, we're born with a body. But no one stated the obvious, the courtroom clincher. So here is Constitutionalism 101:
It is states that force us to buy auto insurance - not the feds.
And states have such power under the Constitution.
The feds do not.
As for Fox, if it keeps this up, people will start associating its name more with looks than cleverness.