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When I was in grade school they made us read Gulliver’s Travels. Now understand, I’m an avid reader. But for some reason, this book didn’t grab me. (Then again, I’m not a Jack Black fan, so I had no trouble passing on the movie version, either.) But I did love one thing Jonathan Swift wrote: A Modest Proposal, his satirical take on what to do about the “Irish Problem” of too many people and too little food. Trouble was too many didn’t ‘get’ Swift. They thought he was serious about offering up the idea that eating Irish babies would solve both problems at the same time. That leads us, in an admittedly roundabout way, to the proud State of South Dakota, where five legislators have recently introduced a bill to mandate that every citizen must own a gun, starting in 2012.

In a story over in HuffPo (which was likely posted amid the wailing and gnashing of teeth), the bill is revealed to be a rather pointed attempt to show just how the Obama Administration has overstepped their constitutional authority by attempting to mandate that every American purchase health care coverage.

State Rep. Hal Wick (R), one of the bill’s sponsors, explained that he has no intention of forcing South Dakotans to buy guns. But if the Federal government can force citizens to buy insurance, where does it end? In a recent interview, Wick told the the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, “Do I or the other cosponsors believe that the State of South Dakota can require citizens to buy firearms? Of course not. But at the same time, we do not believe the federal government can order every citizen to buy health insurance.”

The bill would take effect January 1, 2012 and would allow citizens six months to acquire a firearm after turning 21. The bill would not apply to those who are already legally barred from owning a firearm. South Dakotans would be allowed to choose any gun “suitable to their temperament, physical capacity, and preference.”

HuffPo rather self-righteously points out that SD is the same state that, in the post-9/11 climate, passed legislation barring legal immigrants from carrying concealed weapons. (Imagine their wrath, had they passed a bill banning conceal carry by illegal immigrants.)

I’m of two minds on this. On the one hand, you never cut ‘funny.’ And this is funny. I mean, talk about sticking right in the face of the ObamaNation. You wanna mandate? I’LL show you a mandate!

On the other hand, as a writer, performer, and sometimes satirist, I (sadly) realize, ya gotta play to the cheap seats. And satire is something that, shall we say, the less…um… erudite among us kinda miss altogether. Something like this bill is all to easy for the left to toss up in the air and (euphamistcally, of course) use it for shootin’ skeet, as they take aim at what they will surely portray as “gun nuts run amok.”

What most people overlook, however, is  that this issue—its satirical mocking of the unconstitutionality of the ObamaCare plan notwithstanding—hits at the heart of the issue of our 2nd Amendment freedoms.

You see, the founding fathers lived in a pragmatic world, where they held no truck with the modern notions of “society’s to blame…let’s arrest them, instead.” No George, Jim, Tom, Ben and the rest of the boys were big on this “personal responsibility” meme that has fallen out of favor with the Left. They looked at things from a practical point of view.

In the case of a home invasion, robbery or other criminal activity, should a Colonial property owner A) wait for the constable to be awakened, strap on his musket and ride on over, or B) shoot the bastards trying to take his stuff. The founders recognized that the smart money was on “B.” So they presumed that everybody simply owned one or more guns.

The early take on “militias” had nothing to do with a standing Army or the National Guard – if your neighborhood, hamlet, village or bend in the road was under attack, by God you were expected to defend it your own self, along with a little help from your friends.

While those on the left would like to believe that in our modern world, there is no need for personal defense (and force you to suffer under their delusions), I think taking personal responsibility for my own welfare is just peachy. My personal defense plans start with guns. Plural. It does not end there. But it’s a good place to start.

Frankly, I see nothing wrong with everybody owning guns, with the obvious exception of the mentally ill and convicted criminals. I just don’t want anybody in the government telling me what I have to do to defend myself, any more than I want them telling me what to do to take care of my health.

But I gotta admit, Jonathan Swift would be smiling at this one.

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  1. Anyone can play What Would George Do. Generally, we just project our own views onto the founders and bang, instant validation for our own cockamamie opinions, whatever they may be. Fun game.

    But we do know this: If Washington were really here today, among the first things out of his mouth would be his teeth. After recovering from his spit take, he’d say: “You freed the WHO? You granted women the WHAT?” But after studying and thinking about the matter for a while, he’d probably tell us we did pretty good. Jefferson, Hamilton, and Madison would be particularly impressed, I like to think. We took the ideals expressed in the Declaration and Constitution and actually executed them — to an extent they never dared dream.

    It’s an odd thing for people who own other people to be held up as exemplars of personal responsibility. Irony is not quite the word. But there it is. The founders were many things. For one, many were landed gentlemen. So they gambled, drank, owned and traded slaves, sired any number of illegitimate children (free and slave), laid their debts off on merchants, and pretty much did as they pleased, without any special concern about the concept we know today as “personal responsibility.”

    • Magoo, do you actually get your information anywhere other than the NY Times or Washington Post? I mean, seriously…you’re gonna trot out this Liberal meme of “the founders were slave owners, and therefore we should not admire them”? And that crack of yours about “personal responsibility.” Sheesh. I’d take the time to systematically and categorically dismantle every last one of your arguments, but what good would it do? At the end of my efforts, you’d still be clinging to your dogma, no wiser for my efforts.

      I will go this far. Read the book John Adams – the one used as the text for the miniseries. Also the recent bio on George Washington. Try to read them without your knee-jerk, liberal bias, and then tell me that these men did not have any special concern about ‘personal responsibility.’

      Until and unless you are armed with the facts, discussing the founders with you is much like having a battle of wits with an unarmed combatant. I’d win, but there’s not much sport in it.

      • Brad, you’re not saying anything. My point stands: for a modern conception of personal responsibility, don’t go to the framers and founders. Their ideas on that subject were entirely different than yours. For one thing, they purchased other human beings to perform their personal responsibilities for them. I’m sure you don’t subscribe to that.

        What Swift wrote is known as a juvenal and it flew straight over your head like a big, fat Mallard. Meanwhile, the constitutional duties of the South Dakota legislature do not include satire. A law mandating gun ownership is a stupid idea no matter how you spin it, but nice try.

  2. Brad, the reason the health care mandate is unconstitutional is because it is coming from the Federal government. But Wick is wrong: The state of South Dakota CAN require its citizens to buy guns, or health insurance, or just about anything else under their general police power. So I’d call this a swing and a miss in terms of satirical value since it’s completely missing the point: It is, in fact, perfectly Constitutional for some governments to require that you buy things, it’s just that the Federal government is not one of those governments because the federal government is a government of limited and specified powers.

    • That’s an ongoing matter of opinion, isn’t it? Many legal authorities believe the requirement for health insurance is entirely constitutional under the commerce clause. In court tests of the mandate to date, the score is two judges for, two against.

      I disagree that the Federal govt’s powers are inherently limited in comparison to those of the states. For one, the Federal govt can conscript you. I also reject the suggestion that Vinson’s decision favors state over Federal powers. He rejected a second claim that the new law violated states’ rights by requiring states to pay for a fractional share of the planned Medicaid expansion.

  3. I heard about this on the local radio station Wednesday afternoon. They were pissed at the thought of the government making them buy a gun that they didn’t want. One guy said he wasn’t against guns, but the cost of buying it was not something he wanted to do. Finally another guy said it was a stunt to prove a point about forcing people to buy healthcare and the conversation faded.

    There was a town north of Atlanta which DID pass a requirement for everyone to own a handgun. It was later tempered down to exclude those who didn’t want to… which basically meant it was pointless, but it had its desired effect. The home break-ins dropped precipitously.

  4. The Founding Fathers were honorable eighteenth-century men who risked everything for their personal vision of freedom. They should not be personally judged by honorable twenty-first century standards. The Constitution they created for the Federal government — each of the states had their own constitutions — is not a system of mandates but a system of restrictions. The whole point of it was to circumscribe Federal powers, not to create a document that claims that people, sitting at home and doing nothing, are “in commerce.” Thus, a state under it’s police powers certainly can mandate gun ownership, and the Federal government’s reach exceeds it’s grasp when it mandates health insurance.

  5. I hope lil rhody passes a law that would require all qualified people to own some sort of gun, it’s a brilliant idea.

  6. Oh ok, Magoo, let’s just throw the baby out with the bathwater. Let’s all just go back to living under a dictatorship. Because obviously these guys weren’t the BEST examples of humanity, I guess the whole “Constitution” thing was just some drunken manifesto they made up after a night of beating slaves and having kids out of wedlock. Separation of church and state, limited government doesn’t make any sense anyways.

    Better yet, why don’t you move to North Korea? They don’t have civilian ownership of guns there, you’ll “feel” much safer and the Dear Leader will tell you exactly what to do!

  7. i realize i am horribly late to this discussion, but i thought there was something that should be mentioned when it comes to the health care debate. and you should know that, before you continue reading, i am against our current health care bill (although you have only my word on that).

    back in the day – 1798 – politicians created socialized medicine in the united states.

    while thomas jefferson was president of the senate, jonathon dayton was speaker of the house and john adams was president a bill, called the “An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen,” was passed. this bill created federal hospitals and required merchant mariners to get a health care policy. and it’s still around to this day (run by the surgeon general).

    the text of the bill can be viewed here:

    a longer explanation of the bill can be viewed here:

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