Mandatory gun purchases in South Dakota?

MANDATORY GUN PURCHASES IN SOUTH DAKOTA?…. Apparently hoping to make some kind of political point about health care, several lawmakers in South Dakota have proposed requiring adults in the state to purchase a firearm after turning 21. (thanks to reader J.S. for the tip)

The bill, which would take effect Jan. 1, 2012, would give people six months to acquire a firearm after turning 21. The provision does not apply to people who are barred from owning a firearm.

Nor does the measure specify what type of firearm. Instead, residents would pick one “suitable to their temperament, physical capacity, and preference.”

The measure is known as an act “to provide for an individual mandate to adult citizens to provide for the self defense of themselves and others.”

The lead sponsor, a Republican named Hal Wick, apparently doesn’t take his own legislation seriously, and is pushing the measure as some kind of political statement.

“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,” Wick said.

John Cole noted in response, “I’m not sure how exactly that proves his point, but I’m not a wingnut, so wingnut logic doesn’t work on me.”

I’m stuck with the same reaction. I mean, sure, I see the gist of the point — government-required purchases vs. government-required purchases — but the argument just doesn’t stand up well.

The health care insurance mandate is part of a larger reform law that regulates the national health care system, legally permissible at the federal level through the Commerce Clause, and as Mitt Romney can tell you, legally permissible at the state level, too. As a practical matter, there’s no meaningful difference between this and mandatory car insurance, mandatory flood insurance in coastal areas, or mandatory property insurance imposed on some factory owners.

How is this the equivalent of forcing South Dakotans to buy a gun?