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?