Bill Introduced in South Dakota Would Require All Citizens to Buy a Gun

Roanoke Firearms store owner John Markell holds a Glock 19 handgun, the model used in both the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre and the recent shootings in Tucson, Ariz. Sales of the handgun surged after both events. Getty Images

AP

A group of South Dakota lawmakers have introduced a bill mandating that every citizen in their state over the age of 21 purchase a firearm, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports.

Under the bill, the firearm would reportedly have to be "sufficient to provide for their ordinary self-defense" and residents would have six months to buy one after the law takes effect. The only people exempted would be those legally prohibited from owning a firearm.

If this sounds too crazy to be true, it is - sort of. The lawmakers told the Argus Leader they know the bill won't pass and introduced it only to make a point related to the individual mandate in last year's sweeping health care reform law. The mandate, which goes into effect in 2014, requires that all Americans purchase health insurance or pay a fine.

"Do I or the other cosponsors believe that the State of South Dakota can require citizens to buy firearms? Of course not," Republican Rep. Hal Wick told the Argus Leader. "But at the same time, we do not believe the federal government can order every citizen to buy health insurance."

The individual mandate has been at the center of court challenges to the health care reform law. Two federal judges have thus far ruled the law constitutional and two have ruled it (at least in part) unconstitutional. The matter is expected to eventually come before the Supreme Court.

In an appearanceon CBSNews.com's "Washington Unplugged" in December, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli compared the individual mandate to forcing people to buy guns.

"Never before in our history has the federal government ordered Americans to buy a product under the guise of regulating commerce," he said. "Imagine if this bill were that in order to protect our communities and homeland security, every American had to buy a gun. Can you image the reaction across the country to that?"

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