At least six states are considering new taxes or fees on firearms or ammunition
as a way to help pay for the consequences of gun violence.
Gun and ammunition purchases are already subject to local sales taxes, and manufacturers pay a federal excise tax -- 10% for pistols and revolvers, 11% for other guns, shells and cartridges -- that funds wildlife programs.
Lawrence Keane, general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents gun manufacturers, distributors and retailers, says proposals for new gun taxes are "a coordinated effort by gun-control groups to try to impose a poll tax on the exercise of the Second Amendment."
Legislation introduced in Congress would add a 10% tax on handgun purchases to pay for gun buybacks and other programs. Bills creating taxes are pending in state legislatures in New Jersey and Washington.
A $25 tax that Cook County, Ill., began collecting on gun purchases this month to help pay for care of indigent gunshot victims is "an acknowledgment that we as a society pay a terrible price for the proliferation of guns," says Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, a Democrat.
--The Maryland General Assembly passed a bill that includes a fee of up to $25 for handgun licenses. Delegate Jon Cardin, a Democrat, also proposed a 50% tax on ammunition purchases to increase funding for mental health programs and to modernize permitting and licensing procedures. "This is not taking away people's guns," Cardin says.
--California Assembly member Roger Dickinson, a Democrat, introduced a bill that would add a 5-cent tax to the sale of every bullet. A hearing is set for April 15. Much of the $50 million in estimated revenue would go to restore funding for mental health screening programs in elementary schools, he says.
-- A committee heard testimony last week on a Nevada bill that would create a $25 tax on gun sales and a 2-cent tax on each round of ammunition. Funds would benefit victims' services and mental health programs.
-- Massachusetts state Rep. David Linsky, a Democrat, proposed a 25% sales tax on ammunition and firearms, with the money going to mental health and victims' programs, police training and firearms licensing. "We tax cigarettes, we tax alcohol, we tax other items that have a negative effect on society," he says.
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