A Modest Proposal

posted at 8:41 am on June 29, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Now that the Roberts Court has affirmed that the government has the power to mandate purchases of private goods and services as long as it’s structured as a tax, I propose that we put this new-found authority in the service of an explicit Constitutional right.  For far too long, too many Americans have suffered from an inequal distribution of firearms, despite the Second Amendment’s express exhortation to “keep and bear arms,” in large part because income inequality in this nation has kept the poor and working classes from having the proper protection for themselves and their loved ones.  We need to end this disparity now by applying the ObamaCare model immediately.

First, the government needs to issue a mandate that all households must own at least one firearm. We will need a federal agency to ensure that people aren’t just buying cheap BB guns or .22 pistols, even though that may be all they need or want.  It has to be 9mm or above, with .44 magnums getting a one-time tax credit on their own.  Let’s pick an agency known for its aptitude on firearms and home protection to issue required annual certifications each year, without which the government will have to levy hefty fines.  Which agency would do the best job?  Hmmmm … I know!  How about TSA?  With their track record of excellence, we should have no problems implementing this mandate.

Don’t want to own a gun?  Hey, no worries.  Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts says citizens have the right to refuse to comply with mandates.  The government will just seize some of your cash in fines, that’s all.  Isn’t choice great?  Those fines will go toward federal credits that will fund firearm purchases for the less well off, so that they can protect their homes as adequately as those who can afford guns on their own.  Since they generally live in neighborhoods where police response is appreciably worse than their higher-earning fellow Americans, they need them more anyway.  Besides — gun ownership is actually mentioned in the Constitution, unlike health care, which isn’t.  Obviously, that means that the federal government should be funding gun ownership.

Now, I’m not naive; this kind of mandate system will be difficult to get through Congress.  Even gun manufacturers might have some reservations about forcing everyone to buy their product, especially since we’ll also be imposing massive price controls on their products.  Only 7% of their revenues can be spent on administrative costs and “profit,” whatever we decide that means.  How else to make sure that we keep prices fair?  We have an ace in the hole, though. We plan to get the ammunition industry on our side, running a $200 million ad campaign on behalf of the bill.  They stand to make billions in the huge increase of target practice — which gun ranges will have to provide for free on at least one occasion a year per person, and for which the government will cover the range costs at, say, $5 per hour.  (That’s a loss for gun ranges, but they’ll make it up in volume.)

We need to act now.  Too many poor and working-class families face injury and death from lack of self-protection in areas of high rates of violent crime, so if you oppose this, you must hate the poor and hope they die.  Since no one does that, we should expect to see everyone celebrating this effort to realize the vision of our Founders, which was obviously a top-down federal government that can order its citizens to do anything it wants.

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