Forced to Bear Arms

Ran across an interesting article digging into Congressional history to defend Obamacare. The current argument before the Supreme Court (as I probably inaccurately understand it) is whether or not the government can issue an individual mandate, i.e., can the government force an individual to buy something.

The article points to a 1790 law that mandated health insurance. Interesting example. But I’m so not interested in arguing about the validity of Obamacare (so not interested).

The interesting part of the article is when they point to a 1792 law that made gun ownership not just a right but a requirement:

In 1792, a Congress with 17 framers passed another statute that required all able-bodied men to buy firearms. Yes, we used to have not only a right to bear arms, but a federal duty to buy them.

That’s hilarious.

According to Wikipedia it was part of a Uniform Militia law, which raised up state militias as opposed to a federal army. White men were required to register with the militia and have a gun ready to go. It was never fully enforced and there was never widespread compliance.

Oh so wacky. I wonder how that’d go over today?

Sidebar: It’s funny what we expect out of our political system. Sometimes we act like certain things are anathema to our way of life, but it turns out it’s all shifting and moving, depending on the issue, the era and who’s in charge. Sometimes an idea seems historic and foundational (like “under God” in the pledge, added in the 1950s), but it’s not.

Sidebar II: We can’t talk about the right to bear arms without mentioning the awesome T-shirt (or pick your favorite permeation).

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