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HB 1237: Require Citizens to Acquire Firearms

O.K., now the yahoos are just teasing me. Representatives Wick, Brunner, and Greenfield and Senators Rampleberg and Begalka have introduced HB 1237, a measure requiring every South Dakotan over 21 to purchase or otherwise acquire a firearm for self-defense.

They can't be serious. These are the same guys who tell me the government can't require us to buy health insurance. Does HB 1237 signal that they are conceding that argument? Darn shame if they are, since that might be the only workable Constitutional argument they have left against Obamacare.

But I'll take that concession and let them float this bill. I don't need the Constitution to argue that HB 1237 is just nuts. Mandatory health insurance will have more tangible positive effect than mandatory gun ownership. Mandatory health insurance also includes subsidies for lower-income folks. Will Rep. Wick open up the state coffers to help low-income folks buy workable firearms? The poor deserve protection too, don't they? Putting a gun in every adult's pocket is a lot more likely to lead to accidental injuries and deaths than putting an insurance card in everyone's pocket.

A gun is a nearly obsolete tool in everyday modern life. It doesn't get you medical care or help you keep your job. It doesn't boost your retirement account. It doesn't educate your kids. It doesn't balance the state budget or pave roads. It doesn't check abuses of government power in a society ruled by money and information rather than brute force.

And a gun in my hand would not help me persuade these legislators that HB 1237 is a waste of time. The legislators floating this bill are either yanking our chain or spending too much time watching old John Wayne movies. But thank you, gentlemen, for providing us a good laugh... on the taxpayers' dime.


  1. Kelsey 2011.01.31

    Would a caulking gun count? I actually need to pick up one of those.

  2. Matt Groce 2011.01.31

    How about a potato gun?

  3. larry kurtz 2011.01.31

    The War Toilet is reporting preliminary language on an anti civil rights bill using the language, "...what counseling, education, and assistance that is available to the pregnant mother to help her maintain her relationship with her unborn child and help her care for the child both through the pregnancy help center..."

    Why not pass a bill that mandates proficiency in basic condom installation as a graduation requirement from middle school?

  4. nonnie 2011.01.31

    Well, I second the above post. I agree too that this is ridiculous. I believe everyone has the right to own a gun IF they want to. But the gov't has no right to mandate that everyone over 21 go out and buy a gun. I would love to know the reasoning behind even bringing this up - maybe it is to add a little levity to this serious session.

  5. Michael Black 2011.01.31

    There is only one issue the legislature needs to deal with and that is the budget.

  6. Frances Stokes 2011.01.31

    I just wish you politicians would spend time working on solutions that 'really' matter to South education, state health care and a one cent sales tax. Please show some seriousness. We are sick and tired of electing people who go to Pierre and do nothing!

  7. Thomas Mack 2011.01.31

    You know, they do have history on their side for this bill. Their bill resembles the Militia Act of 1792, which made every able body white male to have a firearm for military service. This law would be an extension of that law. The Militia Act of 1792 basically set up an individual mandate for white males at the time. This bill was signed by George Washington,a Founding Father, while he was President. Congress had to create the bill, which means more Founding Fathers favored an individual mandate. So, my overall conclusion is that the individual mandate is Constitutional and the Founding Fathers support an individual mandate. If my conclusion is correct, that also means that the Individual Mandate provision Health Care Bill is Constitutional. Sorry I went a little Glenn Beck on this topic. I personally believe that this bill is crazy and will cause alot of trouble in the long run.

  8. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.01.31

    Interesting history, Tom! Bob Mercer reports that HB 1237 really is the grandstanding and message-sending on health care that I suspected it was. But I agree the bill could cause trouble. Perhaps a good rule of thumb for legislators is to never throw into the Legislative hopper any bill that you really don't want to see enacted.

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.01.31

    And thinking about Kelsey and Matt's point... what if I'm a lot better with knives than with a gun?

  10. Lee Schoenbeck 2011.01.31

    Corey - when you start with that - guns are obsolete argument - well there are dunderheads that would say that about forensics, too, for example -- and I would shake my head sadly at them - like I do at you know. But, don't worry brother, if they make you get one - you can borrow one from me. You've seen mine in action - they are acurate :)

  11. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.01.31

    Guns have their place, Lee, and I'm proud to associate with men like you (and your son!) who can put them to good use. I'm simply comparing the utility individuals and society derive from guns with utility provided by other accoutrements of civilization. Hand your fellow citizens $500, ask them whether they'd like to buy a shotgun or a pistol or whether there's something else they could use more. I'd be interested to see what others would say, but I suspect I'd take the money and buy a washing machine, or new tires, or a garden tiller, or new bike parts....

  12. Stan Gibilisco 2011.02.01

    Do Romulan disruptors count?

    Do we have time to waste on Denobulan dung such as this bill?

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.02.01

    I'm fine with allowing disruptors... but knowing these legislators and their xenophobia, they probably would not let us use any technology made off-world. Starfleet phasers only, and no more technology from those arrogant, overprotective Vulcans!

    Hey, if this bill is about self-defense, why not require everyone buy bullet-proof vests?

  14. Wayne Booze 2011.02.01

    Symbolicism aside, the implementation arm of this law scares me. How is SD going to find out if I'm in compliance? Ask me to register a gun with the state? No thank you.

    Our nation and state would be better served if we required every citizen to participate in military or volunteer service for a couple years. We'd be much better equipped to defend ourselves and our fellow person, and to help them out in their hour of need.

    I think our Attorney General is going to be quite busy these next couple years...

  15. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.02.01

    It's back-door gun control! Wayne! You figured it out! :-P

    mandatory service... hmm... perhaps we should require everyone to improve their verbal defense skills by taking two years of debate in high school...

  16. Wayne Booze 2011.02.01

    Nice ;)

    As much as I loved (and my girlfriend hates) my increased verbal defense skills, I'd be hesitant to require it for all folks, just as I am to require civil service. They do appeal to my sense of civic duty much better than going out and buying a Colt 1911.

    Of course, with verbal defense, civic activity, and mandatory possession of firearms, we may actually have a polite society. Monocles and top hats for all!

    At least my representatives are more concerned with texting while driving and allowing municipalities to regulate traffic on state highways within city boundaries than on blustery demonstrations.

    I'm not regretting my votes... yet...

  17. DC 2011.02.01

    What if you were denied ammo while being mugged because you had been mugged before?

Comments are closed.