After the Civil War, Alabama, Mississippi, Virginia, Texas and other southern states created a poll tax. The tax on voting disenfranchised millions of African Americans. In 1964, the states passed the 24th Amendment striking down the poll tax—for Federal elections. In 1965, Congress enacted the Voting Rights Act which prohibited the states from imposing any “voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure . . . to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.” In Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, the Supreme Court formally extended the poll-tax prohibition to the states, ruling that the practice violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.” OK, so, gun rights . . .
The Constitutional ban on federal legislation that infringes a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms couldn’t be any more clear: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
If a poll tax is considered unconstitutional, how is it that the feds can tax guns and ammo? Dunno. But they do. The Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Trade Bureau collects a 10 percent federal tax on the sale price of guns and an 11 percent tax on the sale price of ammo. Imported rifles and shotguns face an 11 percent tariff.
No one’s challenged the federal tax on constitutional grounds. But our sources tell us that either the NRA and/or the Second Amendment Foundation are about to file suits against the Cook County tax ordinance as a discriminatory violation of citizens’ Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms.
The case seems pretty clear: the Cook County tax imposes an unfair and unequal burden on low-income (read: black) residents. Good luck with that. Win or lose, the battle of the “gun owners poll tax” would raise an important question: is the fight for the right to keep and bear arms the next civil rights crusade?
Could we see a move towards creating a Gun Owners Act, prohibiting local, state and federal interference with gun and ammo sales (including regulating concealed carry)? It seems highly unlikely; tens of millions of Americans have completely bought into the idea that infringement is necessary for public safety.
Still, there was a time when Jim Crow laws seemed permanent. And while the Constitutional Carry movement seems to have run out of steam (after victories in Alaska, Arizona, Montana, Vermont, Wyoming) there are still plenty of gun rights repressed voters ready and willing (if not currently able) to fight for the free exercise of their Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms.
Cook County’s gun tax may seem like a victory for the gun grabbers, but it could be their Waterloo. Especially in rabidbly anti-gun Cook County. As always, watch this space . . .