We’ve reported previously on Cook County’s proposed “Violence Tax,” which would put a five cent per round tax on ammunition and a $25 per gun flat tax on any firearms sold in the county. And we’ve reported on the fact that they’re dropping the ammo tax part. The proposed law still has people up in arms (not literally, yet), but here’s the thing that we’re forgetting: there already is a tax on firearms in the United States that’s used to defray the cost of activities with guns. It’s called the Pittman–Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, and its been in place since 1937 . . .

Since the enactment of that law, an 11% tax (10% on handguns) has been levied against the sale of all firearms and ammo in the Land of the Free. The money goes to the Department of the Interior and is redistributed to the states based on the percentage of licensed hunters in each state.

It’s a way to defray the cost of hunter licensing and game wardens and such, with half the money given to the states mandated to be used for creation and maintenance of ranges and hunter education programs. Which is why I got so pissed off when Pennsylvania closed their state gamelands ranges to anyone without a hunting license or permit — I already paid for that range by purchasing a gun.

So while this new tax (A) doesn’t make logical sense since it punishes law abiding citizens instead of criminals, (B) won’t do a damned thing to help Chicago’s murder problem and (C) further proves that Chicago is a terrible place to live, its not really unprecedented.

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13 Responses to Chicago “Violence Tax” Not as Unprecedented as You’d Think

  1. “Which is why I got so pissed off when Pennsylvania closed their state gamelands ranges to anyone without a hunting license or permit — I already paid for that range by purchasing a gun.”

    They did it b/c your failure to purchase a hunting license screwed up their formula for getting the $$$ you paid for the gun since the redistribution is tied to licensed hunters. . . . .

    • Not just licensed hunters, but also area of game lands. They did it because they wanted more money and rather than asking for it honestly in the budget they gamed the system. Also, non-hunters aren’t using the gamelands to the same degree as hunters.

      -D

  2. Pittman–Robertson also taxes firearms accessories and archery equipment. I too was extremely pissed when PA put a fee on the “public” shooting ranges (via the hunting permit requirement OR a range permit). The funds are also apportioned back to states based on area of game lands, in addition to number of hunting permits. I think 50% of the equation is number of permits and 50% is area of game land.

    Interestingly, the range permit is slightly more expensive than just getting a basic hunting permit. The result being that tons of people who shoot for recreation or do defensive training but don’t hunt have bought hunting permits to continue to use the “public” ranges. This has artificially inflated the number of hunting permits issued, and therefore PA gets a bigger take of the P-R funds than in theory should be reflected by game lands use. I wonder what happens with all of that extra money (I haven’t noticed a corresponding increase in game land maintenance…)

    The interesting thing with the P-R situation in PA is illustrative of the dichotomy of taxes and freedom… Do you want any free land to play around on. Free means owned by the public. It is a resource. Resources are worth money and we’ve decided long ago that there is no such thing as an un-owned resource. If you want “free land” then you need to pay taxes to pay for ownership of it. If you don’t want taxes but still want the resource, then you get more fees. Fees are highly regressive taxes and with fees come restrictions (like now you can’t bring more than one guest per hunting/range permit). Then there’s the issue of fee collection, another person whose job it is to sort out, collect, and manage the fees. More people responsible for policing who has paid the fee or not. This could easily cost more than paying for it in the form of a tax and keeping it truly open to the public.

    -D

  3. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Public lands cannot be maintained at zero cost. You can pay for upkeep through general revenues or levy a use tax. Economic efficiency says you should apply a use tax so you don’t get free riders. Just buy a basic hunting license. If you own a long gun you should have one anyway.

    • If you want to hunt, you can pay a higher fee for your license and pay a permit fee for the particular place you hunt. Why should non-hunters have to subsidize your hobby? That’s like saying that all car owners should have to pay an extra tax to subsidize NASCAR events to keep ticket prices lower for NASCAR fans.

      • You are paying for the use of the public range on public hunting lands. Would you rather pay a separate range fee each time you shoot? Think of the basic license as your range membership fee. I used to pay $480 a year for my club. Now that I an old guy I pay $160 for me and the wife. A basic hunting license is about $50. It’s a bargain.

        • You are paying for the use of the public range on public hunting lands. Would you rather pay a separate range fee each time you shoot?

          Maybe where you live. Here, we pay for passes to public shooting ranges (that also have hunting).

          Now that I an old guy I pay $160 for me and the wife. A basic hunting license is about $50. It’s a bargain.

          A bargain for you because non-hunters like me are forced to subsidize you. You haven’t provided any reason why non-hunters (an rapidly increasing percentage of gun owners – if not a majority, it soon will be) should be forced to subsidize hunters.

  4. I wish some brave soul would propose a tax CREDIT for gun purchases. The only reason gun purchases are taxed is because some gun-grabber thought it up as a way to ‘punish’ buyers. It’s a way to defray the cost of hunter licensing and game wardens and such, with half the money given to the states mandated to be used for creation and maintenance of ranges and hunter education programs. Oh, yeah? Well, how much are we already spending on education? The feds spend about $100 billion and the states spend probably 2/3 of their budgets on education, i.e. billions more, and that’s just K-12. That doesn’t include higher ed. And we can’t find money in all that for “hunter education programs”??? And why can’t we put the education AND ranges at the schools? We’re currently paying for school ground maintenance now – 1 gun range at each school wouldn’t be much of an added burden! In the words of George Taylor (POTA), “It’s a madhouse!!!!”

  5. Can someone please tell me when this 11% or 10% tax is applied and how? Is it from the manufacturers to the dealers or distributors? I never have noticed this tax during a typical sale. It seems weird that there is this tax and state, also federal I suppose if you bought a NFA weapon. I would like to hear more about how this law functions in the modern gun industry.

    This is a very interesting subject for analysis. So how much tax is there from the moment a firearm is created to it getting to its new owners hands. I understand the manufacturer would have business taxes, ATF taxes, Import/export taxes, misc federal, sale…ext… How much of the firearms sale price is really the firearm and how much is just making up for all the excessive taxing?

  6. And as we all know, criminals will happily pay this tax whenever they go into their local gun shop, wave their CWP card, and legally purchase their guns and ammo they will to use to commit crimes.

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