Could the Obamacare Ruling be Bad News for Gun Owners?

In what some wags are calling a 1-4-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Obamacare last week, the law known to some by its snort-inducing official title, the Affordable Care Act. Depending on your point of view, Chief Justice John Roberts either caved into political pressure or dropped a time-delayed bomb on future fourth amendment-based government coercion and spending. And he performed this bit of Rorschach legerdemain by ruling that the Obamacare individual mandate – the one that says every American must buy insurance or cough up some cash – is unconstitutional under the commerce clause. But it’s ultimately just fine and dandy because it’s not a penalty (as proponents doggedly argued both pre and post passage), it’s a tax. And as we all know, if there’s one thing Congress can do, it’s levy a tax. Translation: government now has the authority to set the IRS on you if you don’t do something they decide needs doing. For gun owners, this could mean . . .

…different things depending on where you live. Potentially. Here’s the Chief Justice’s reasoning:

Under the mandate, if an individual does not maintain health insurance, the only consequence is that he must make an additional payment to the IRS when he pays his taxes. That, according to the Government, means the mandate can be regarded as establishing a condition–not owning health insurance–that triggers a tax–the required payment to the IRS. Under that theory, the mandate is not a legal command to buy insurance. Rather, it makes going without insurance just another thing the Government taxes, like buying gasoline or earning income. And if the mandate is in effect just a tax hike on certain taxpayers who do not have health insurance, it may be within Congress’s constitutional power to tax.

Got that? Before this week: buy an apple and you pay a tax. Now: because they’re good for you, buy an apple or you pay a tax. Coercion codified, backed by the full faith and credit destroying power of the Internal Revenue Service.

Now, a tinfoil hat-wearing, dyed-in-the-ballistic-ripstop-nylon cynic could imagine how certain jurisdictions that look on individual gun rights with a jaundiced eye might take advantage of the powers now vested in them in this new legal world in which we live. These anti-gun locales could choose to use this newly OK’d power to command individual behavior to, um, discourage those behaviors they’d like nothing better than to discourage. Like owning and packing a heater.

Wait…the courts have also upheld 2A rights, right? Yep, they sure have. But let’s say you happen to live – just as an example – beside Lake Michigan in the most corrupt city in the most corrupt state among these here fifty-seven. And let’s suppose the powers that be in this hypothetical city are smart enough to look down the tracks and see that their happy little hoplophobic paradise is on the wrong side of history.

When they look down those tracks, they see that expanded gun rights and, yes, even concealed carry are coming at them like a (very slow-moving) freight train no matter how much rectal puckering that may cause them. They’ve lost the battles in both the courts and the court of public opinion. And say what you will about Chicago’s city fathers, but not many will accuse them of being stupid. They know they can’t stand athwart history yelling stop very much longer.

So they figure, if they can’t beat the gun rights wackos, who’s to say it isn’t better to join ’em? Why not call off the lawyers, bite the proverbial bullet and legalize concealed carry? Only now, they can do it their way. Just as those who want to exercise their right to live in the US of A now have to buy health insurance, those in Chicago who want to exercise their right to own and carry a gun will have to practice. Plenty.

That’s right, in order to legally own and carry a gun, you’ll have to put in some range time, firing at least 100 rounds per month. And 90% of what you send downrange has to hit the target. In fact, you’ll have to certify that you’ve done that with a new check box on your City of Chicago earnings tax return each year. And you’d better keep those new certification receipts Illinois range owners will be required to provide (at an added cost of $10 per visit), too, because in order to renew your Illinois Firearms Owners ID card, you’re going to have to fill out a new Marksmanship Proficiency Maintenance form and attach all twelve of ’em – or no FOID renewal.

What’s that? You say you’re a low- to moderate-income gun owner? And besides the fact that there’s almost nowhere to shoot in the city, you couldn’t afford the range fees and ammo expense (let alone the gas to schlep all the way out to the suburbs) once a month to stay legal in the last twelve months? Fine. Not only don’t you get that new FOID, you now owe a $500 firearm-owner tax. It’s not a penalty, it’s a tax on those of you who pass on the costs of more gun accidents and irresponsible behavior to society at large. Gee, with a requirement like that, it’s almost as if they don’t want you to own a gun.

Now before you jump on The Firing Line and go all Paul Revere about the newest anti-2A outrage they’ve dreamed up in the Land of Lincoln, none of this has happened. It’s all just the product of my twisted, paranoiac imagination. So relax, there’s nothing to worry about. Is there?

comments

  1. avatar Ralph says:

    In most states, the right to keep and bear arms outside the home is already taxed. That’s what the permit fees are. As for the feds further taxing gun ownership, yeah, it’s possible. But the feds power to tax does not override a constitutional right. So if the feds decide to stamp out guns by taxing the crap out of owners, and if such a thing passes Congress, we will have another Court case and Roberts will have plenty of time to rue his decision.

  2. avatar Robert Farago says:

    Alternatively, a Republican could force people to buy a gun—or pay a tax.

    1. avatar Don says:

      A lot of people who fear they may be closet sociopaths insecure in their ability to exercise self control or rationality under duress self-select not to own guns, like mikeb for example. I am in favor of letting them continue to do so.

      -D

    2. avatar miforest says:

      the stupid party has no balls, only the evil party has balls. so you will see no response from the stupid party .

      1. avatar Don says:

        I can’t figure out which party is stupid and which party is evil. I am leaning toward both are both.

        1. avatar miforest says:

          they change places from time to time

  3. avatar Wellington says:

    Dan,

    That’s not a likely scenario. It’s too permissive and innocent.

  4. avatar cmd says:

    What about gun insurance? Could the gov make us buy gun insurance or pay a tax to purchase a gun? We would have to show an insurance card when we show ID and fill out the forms. No card then an additional tax on the purchase.

    1. avatar Rustic Bliss says:

      Hey now- STOP GIVING THEM IDEAS!

      1. avatar cmd says:

        My bad. I’m not all that smart so if I thought of it someone else did. Possibly an anti 2A ass.

        1. avatar Greg Camp says:

          Yup, I’ve seen the idea of requiring gun owners to have insurance on gun control blogs for a while now. The wickedness of control freaks knows no bounds.

    2. avatar Wiebelhaus says:

      Apparently they can do any fucking thing they want.

    3. avatar Paul says:

      You already pay additional taxes on firearms, and ammo. Under the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1929. This was passed at the behest of sportsman, as they were seeing the decline of certain species of animals. As a result this money is used for conservation purposes.

      1. avatar cmd says:

        An insurance tax is different. SCOTUS has now said Congress can tell us to buy this crap and charge us a penalty if we don’t. The voting booth is our only option. That sure as hell not any kind of certainty of reversal.

        Law abiding citizens could be forced to directly pay for anti gun programs. The antis would claim the money is going to one place bu use for another. Kali already does that with the 9/11 fund.

  5. avatar Thomas Paine says:

    i’m not so sure that regular people realize what major impact that the recent Supreme Court decision will have in the future. On a side note, some of the guys in my shop were excited when they read the front page headline (obamacare passes or whatever) and were happy that they were going to get free healthcare. When i told them that they were required to buy health insurance or face a fine, they didn’t beleive me.

  6. avatar tdiinva says:

    Taxes are levied by Congress not by Executive Order. There is zero chance that Congress will pass such a tax in the next four years. Some future Congress may choose to do so but with the increasing popularity of gun ownership I don’t think this will ever happen on the national level.

  7. avatar Thomas Paine says:

    I have decided that the only way out of this is to amend the Commerce Clause in the Tenth Amendment. Maybe Roberts knew what he was doing and is trying to get everybody fired up. Another blogger said “he swung left, in order for the people to awake and swing right”.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      I agree completely. We have to introduce a new Constitutional Amendment to spell out the intent and limits of the Interstate Commerce Clause.

  8. avatar Don says:

    1. Since before 1937 guns, accessories, and archery equipment have been federally taxed at between 10%-11%. It is an excise tax built into the price. Before you get up in arms about it look at where the money has been going since the pittman-robertson act of 1937.

    2. Obamacare only hurts you if you are an emergency room freeloader, or some other kind of freeloader since in the health insurance market it is not outcome but risk that is monetized. This is how insurance works. The ire for this law is media manufactured bs on behalf of self serving politicians exploiting our short memories and partisan inclinations to give them job security. They don’t like obamacare because obama did it and will get the credit instead of them when they originally concieved of this law in 1989. It was a good solution rooted in conservative philosophy then, and it still is.

    http://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/vb8vs/eli5_what_exactly_is_obamacare_and_what_did_it/c530lfx

  9. avatar Kevin says:

    I don’t see this as being a concern. The “tax” and “penalty” is in place because we need everyone to pay into the pot to spread out the risk of the unhealthy and pre-existing conditions to everyone. Otherwise people would simply wait until they needed the coverage, then purchase it. Which is not how insurance is intended to work.
    I don’t agree with making it mandatory for everyone, but I understand why that clause is in there.

    1. avatar Cliff says:

      Um, swing and a miss. If you are young and healthy you are a moron to buy health insurance in this scenario. A $750 annual tax is far less than an insurance policy, and if you do get sick, sign up immediately and stick the insurance company with the bill. If you have a somewhat serious condition, it can easily run into six figures, your insurance bill will be far less, and bingo!, you win. When you get healthy, drop out again. The rational actor theory is sometimes not a bad one. Of course, if you are in the private insurance business, you are screwed from both ends. But, that is the point.

      1. avatar Kevin says:

        That scenario you just described is the root of the problem. People are brainwashed in thinking that health insurance is some sort of membership that gives you cheap prescriptions and low co-pays, ala Sam’s Club and Costco. It is INSURANCE. It protects you in case you become sick. You don’t get it when you need it. You get it IN CASE you need it.

        Would you wait until you get into a car accident to buy auto insurance? Or wait until your house is burned down to buy home insurance? Of course not. That is why this is mandatory…they need everyone to sign up right away. I just wish you could opt out…but pay all back premiums plus a significant penalty if you come back and say “whoops, my bad. Can I come back and play?”.

    2. avatar Totenglocke says:

      And the wonderfully corrupt Dishonorable Judge Roberts just granted the government permission to tax you to force you to do anything. GM runs itself into the ground again? No need for a bailout, we’ll just mandate that everyone must purchase a new GM car or pay a $15,000 fine (which would go to GM, of course). Get enough Catholics in office who hate birth control and think everyone should have half a dozen kids? Mandate everyone must reproduce at least once every four years or pay a $10,000 tax. You know, because according to Roberts it’s not infringing your rights if you have to pay a tax for choosing NOT to do something.

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Dishonorable Judge Roberts just granted the government permission to tax you to force you to do anything.

        Yeah, that’s pretty much what he did. If the tax can get through Congress.

        1. avatar Deen Adolphe says:

          King Obwan could just make a decree (Executive Order) and be done with it.

  10. avatar Steve says:

    Though I disagree with the form such anti-gun measures might take, your worry is a valid one. The federal gooberment can now “Tax” you on something you don’t do, or do not have.

    But the states never did have the commerce clause in the way of this. So on the state level, it’s status quo, 2A being the only protection.

    Still, it’s a valid but lower level concern. Me? I’m a little more worried about an economic collapse, mass social unrest, and tanks in the streets. You see, I’m one of Gabe Suarez’s “tinfoil hatters”.

    How do we respond? Easy.

    I’m serious about this, so hear me out:

    Total, knee jerk over-reaction, overheated rhetoric, screaming bloody murder at every instance, every perception, every hint of an infringement on 2A rights. No dialog, no negotiations.

    I call it a political-psychological defense in depth.

    The NRA should change it’s letter grades for politicians to PASS-FAIL.

  11. avatar Tommy Knocker says:

    I thought of this also on Thursday morning. It is a MAC truck that just went thru our collective house. Don’t forget, it was the Pittman-Robertson TAX that your have been paying for decades on EVERY SINGLE PURCHASE OF GUNS, AMMO and ACCESSORIES. The gun community LOVES IT. No one speaks out about ending it.

    Plus the boldest TAX we have been paying for decades is the Class III NFA TAX STAMP. Soooo…..it ain’t a big stretch to see owning a pistol or rifle become a rich mans activity. Just like full auto gear. That tax, even if modest, starts to get accumulated in each successive sale. In no time, the major cost of a used gun could be in the thousands of dollars. I would bet that Chucky Schumer and John McCain would vote for a 1000 dollar tax on new guns in a heartbeat. You know its for the kids….. All they would have to say is “we are going to use that tax money in a reasonable way”. How about new ranges? All the gun community would drag their knuckles along and breath thru their mouths and knod their empty heads “good idea”.

  12. avatar jkp says:

    In one fell swoop, Mr. Justice Roberts made Grover Norquist look prescient.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,
      If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.
      If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat,
      If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.

      George Harrison, “Taxman”

  13. avatar Sanchanim says:

    Roberts had to make a stretch on this one. Based on previous precedent they seem more 2A friendly, but Like many rulings in favor of gun owners, the states then turn around and ignore it. We need a supreme court who will apply it directly and unequivocally to the states period, nullify all other laws which questions modify or otherwise infringe on 2A. This includes may issue states. Also exorbitant fees are also eliminated. So if you are shall issue, similar to NV as an example. Yes the “training” and such is more inconvenient, but you can get your license and it doesn’t cost you more than the gun itself.

    1. avatar Don says:

      Please do not read this in an angry tone… my feeling toward these things is more “meh, life sucks, get a helmet, lol”. Problem is if they did something like that with something some people don’t like those people will just scream “activist judges” ,”state’s rights”, and quote silly things about blood and liberty trees. When it is something that same person agrees with they want the fed to drop the tyranny hammer on the opposition. We are a people of overreaction who want things every which way so long as it is good for us and screws whoever we disagee with. We need to chill and stop listening to the media and politician’s prescr*ption on how they want us to think about things and behave as a true democracy full of independant thinkers and skeptics. The only truly consistent partisan value is everything you belive is right and everything “they” believe is evil, and maybe the unspoken of arrangement that we are to blithely believe the guys in charge actually give a sh*t about us beyond our use as fuel to burn in their machine. Miss YourParty is just smiling at you because she doesn’t want drama. Really she thinks you are pathetic and has her eyes on richer men (campaign donation suger daddies). 😛

      1. avatar matt says:

        quote silly things about blood and liberty trees. When it is something that same person agrees with they want the fed to drop the tyranny hammer on the opposition

        Not me, I say abolish the gov’t at all levels.

        1. avatar Don says:

          😉 I agree in spirit, but studying a lot of world history makes me unable to jump on that wagon in practice. You would need some form of social organization between people powerful enough to prevent government from “occuring” yet never willing to over apply that power. I do not believe that to be possible, and even if it was, that social organization between people would be a government. Also, life would be far less comfortable.

  14. avatar Mike OFWG says:

    I’m much more interested in the new legal concept where if I’m not financially able to exercise my constitutional rights, then they are effectively being denied. For example, if my birth control is not available at no cost to me, my reproductive rights are being infringed. So, in the case of firearms, if I can’t afford one, somebody else is required to buy it for me, or else my right to keep and bear arms is in abeyance. Yeah, maybe a tax on those who can afford a firearm but chose not to, which can be used to purchase firearms by those of us who want one. It would be called the National Firearms Trust Fund.

    1. avatar matt says:

      You dont want that, the products received will be similar to the services rendered, you’ll get Hi-Point 380 pistol QA rejects.

  15. avatar matt says:

    In fact, you’ll have to certify that you’ve done that with a new check box on your City of Chicago earnings tax return each year. And you’d better keep those new certification receipts Illinois range owners will be required to provide (at an added cost of $10 per visit), too, because in order to renew your Illinois Firearms Owners ID card

    Chicagoians dont have file city tax returns. And how does a city tax effect everyone in the state? Chicago all ready does this with the training requirement to register a firearm, and registration fees. $100+ per gun registered every 3 years, compared to $10 for a FOID every 10 years. Plus over $125 for training, and whatever the costs are for ammo and transportation.

  16. avatar Curzen says:

    I don’t see how your scenario would have been impossible before the supreme court ruling so I kinda don’t get your point.

  17. avatar MDC43 says:

    Never give an inch or guns will suffer the same fate as cigarettes. The NRA has been getting it right where big tobacco got it wrong. The second you appear to be amenable to ‘resonable’ compromise, you have assured your own defeat…

  18. avatar Boris says:

    Get ready for a fed AMMO TAX in the next year or so, to cover Obamacares “gun related medical expenses.”

    Mark my words.

  19. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    Or your state could enact a law like this one in Michigan called the “Firearms and Ammunition Act 319 of 1990”:

    123.1102 Regulation of pistols or other firearms.

    Sec. 2.

    A local unit of government shall not impose special taxation on, enact or enforce any ordinance or regulation pertaining to, or regulate in any other manner the ownership, registration, purchase, sale, transfer, transportation, or possession of pistols or other firearms, ammunition for pistols or other firearms, or components of pistols or other firearms, except as otherwise provided by federal law or a law of this state.

  20. avatar Silver says:

    Progressives would tax people who don’t vote Democrat if they could. And now, thanks to this precedent, they can. They can tax for anything. Guns are just the tip of the iceberg.

    Look back to the late 1700s for an example of what a seemingly simple matter like unjust taxation can lead a people to do. If only it would happen again.

  21. avatar Dan says:

    Roberts was a GWB appointee. Never forget that.

  22. avatar Southerner says:

    “Constitutionality of taxing firearms and ammunition.”

    http://www.firearmsandliberty.com/als.v1.html#4

  23. avatar Aharon says:

    Not just for gun owners. Apparently, (and do not quote me on this since I don’t yet have the details), buried within the plan it includes extending child support coverage to the primary parent (that parent can continue to declare a dependent) if the ‘child’ stays in school until age 26.

    1. avatar nonnamous says:

      That’s already true, I was on my parent’s insurance until I was 24 and got a job with health benefits.

  24. avatar Southerner says:

    Is there any argument the NRA could make against the constitutionality of a new special tax on firearms or ammunition – without casting doubt on the constitutionality of Section 4181, (Pittman-Roberstson Act), Taxes?

  25. avatar Gw says:

    Between unlimited powers of taxation, the commerce clause loophole and nationalized healthcare, every conceivable aspect of every person’s life can — and eventually will — be legislated and regulated.
    What’s left on the Agenda? Not much.
    Gun Control, Cap and Tax, dissolving the border between the U.S and Mexico and implementing the final stages of the Union of the Americas.
    If this Act isn’t repealed, watch how quickly the gun banners begin a collective drone about how unfair it is for participants who don’t even own guns to be forced to pay the exorbitant and obviously preventable costs of everything from treating gunshot wounds to saving the planet from global climate change caused by people shooting guns.
    The solution? Simple.
    Federal Registration of all firearms and their owners and of course, banning of certain types of firearms.
    Since registration won’t solve the problems, well, Mr. and Mrs. America, once-and-for-all, you’ll just have to turn them all in.

  26. Ugh, how ELSE were we to fix heathcare in this nation?

    1. avatar Accur81 says:

      National competition and Tort Reform.

  27. avatar TRUTHY says:

    The sky is falling again….

  28. avatar soccerchainsaw says:

    OK Chief Justice Roberts, so it’s not constitutional on the commerce clause…
    but it’s constitutional under the ability to tax….
    You forgot to look at an earlier part, “promote the general welfare”.
    It is intuitively obvious to the most casual observer that not only is Obamacare not going to promote the general welfare, it will be detremental in the long run to the general welfare. Hence, unconstitutional. Checkmate.

  29. avatar Don says:

    You know, if you try hard enough you could probably make an argument that literally anything will adversely affect gun rights.

    “jeez, since they outlawed slavery it has infringed on my ability to have my 50 lb benchrest gun sherpa’d around for me for free in case I need it”

    “jeez, the right to free speech will let people speak out against gun ownership and might adversely affect the ability to do so.”

    I love my weapons. Weapons are one my favorite topics in the world, but sometimes you have to take off the gunmetal-colored glasses and realize that not every single thing that happens is about them. I would like to introduce a new term into the AIsphere:

    Hoplophobephobia: “mental disturbance characterized by delusional observations of imagined hopolophobia”

  30. avatar CJ says:

    This is the reason why since Obama has been in office gun companies are racking in the $ and laughing all the way to the bank. The lobbyist and conservatives have been telling us that “Obama’s going to take away your guns!” What has that led to? Nothing but record sales, record concealed carry permit applications and me not being able to find any parts to build my damn ar-15. Wake up people, your right to bear arms isn’t going anywhere so please stop with all the “sky is falling” rhetoric. The biggest threat to our rights to gun ownership is “us”, perpetually following the party lines and not being responsible in many of our actions or speech. We will take our own rights away faster than any politician ever will and if we keep aligning ourselves with men like Zimmerman and other irresponsible gun owners we are doomed.

    SN: Just because I want to get this all out in this comment and not have to comment on every story; Zimmerman was told by the police not to do anything after he got off the phone, he disregarded the dispatcher so everything that happened after that point is his fault regardless of any circumstances. It’s not a race issue or a gun control issue, it’s a stupidity issue. When the police tell you to do something, do it!

  31. Ok, a bit of USSC info. The majority gets to choose who writes the decision unless the Chief Justice is in that group. So it has been a long practice, for the Chief Justice, who gets to vote last, to throw in with a group he doesn’t agree to have control over who writes the decision to minimize the “damage” a decision can do. Thus, perhaps this is what he did. His decision was very clear. The government asked if the mandate was not proper under the commerce clause that it be considered under the taxing power. Unfortunately, the taxing power has much more leeway.
    However, its his one phrase that was clear. The USSC does not exist to overturn the valid vote of the American public and if they wish to change the law they must change for whom they vote. The public put these people into office and they created this monstrosity, if we truly want Constitutional behavior in our leaders we must vote them out when they act inappropriately. That was the very basic building block of our government.
    He also said the states can opt-t out of the Medicaid expansion.
    I’ve ranted enough.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email