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(AP Photo/Steve Helber)
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…Ari Freilich of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence told ABC News that it’s not the tax, but the tax revenue that matters. “We’re essentially not looking to punish anyone to deter anyone from purchasing weapons… we’re asking a very profitable industry to pay a modest surtax on their profits to help fund the work that is effective at preventing the enormous harms caused by their products.” 

He argues that since revenue from the federal tax on guns and ammunition is largely used for wildlife conservation efforts, an analogous state law could “remediate the effects that the same products have on human populations and families, as well as wildlife.” 

In that case, higher taxes on guns and ammunition would be like a soda tax—high enough to generate revenue for desired programs, but not necessarily so high that people won’t pay it.

Freilich’s argument: While higher taxes on guns and ammunition would not discourage weapons purchases, the revenue they generate could fund gun violence prevention and education programs, like educating kids and parents about the dangers of firearms and the importance of safe storage. 

To me, these taxes are kind of like a clear backpack or a metal detector: They might help stop gun violence in a school, but if research is any guide, they might not.

But to the parent of a school-aged child, these taxes and security product purchases might look like action. They may make a parent feel something is being done. 

Something like gun safety theater that pretends to protect children?

To me, that’s worse than nothing.

— Renu Zaretsky in Excise Taxes on Guns and Ammo: Sin Taxes That Don’t Prevent the Sin

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38 COMMENTS

  1. What a great idea. While we’re at it we should impose a small but reasonable fee for people to vote and at the same time we should make them pass the literacy test just make sure they don’t mess up when they’re filling out the ballot.

    • Perfect! They also have to take a quiz on their candidate’s positions. I’ve seen too many videos where they interviewed liberal voters and asked if they agreed with their candidate on X position and they did. They were alarmed to find out X was the GOP candidate’s position.

    • We can also impose background investigations on Congressional electees and Cabinet members and prevent them from actually taking office until adjudication of the same is deemed favorable while forcing them to pay for these investigations from such taxes.

      Additionally we can require these same elected officials to favorably pass random urinalysis tests several times a year and of course the funding will come from these proposed “taxes” on our firearms and ammo. I can go on and on but my point is it’s just as easy to force BULLSHIT on them they won’t like.

      • Damn straight! They also are subject to audits every year and have to account for every penny they earned over their normal salaries!

  2. This is why you don’t take a single step back and do not compromise at any point with individual liberties.

    They’re now using the Pittman-Robertson act as justification for funding gun control. A small tax now will turn into a huge tax later.

    Since we’re talking about taxing God-given liberties now, I propose a tax of 5% on all newspapers and news agency activities to fund the education and living expenses of those who are slandered by the media (Kyle Rittenhouse, George Zimmerman, Richard Jewell, etc).

    Would this be a positive good right now? Absolutely. The majority of the media sucks. Is it a good precedent? No, it’s only a matter of time before our side will get the end of the barrel.

    • I copied your reply and posted it on the original article. You got full credit. Thanks for a brilliant response.

    • A tactic might be to use this proposal to put Pittman-Robertson on-the-table for “reform”. Is the tax structured in a way that really advances its proposed causes?

      Hardly any money goes to support public ranges today. Shouldn’t the tax on handgun ammo be earmarked for public ranges? City dwellers who need to practice occasionally suffer the most. They can’t afford the range fees or membership cost to use private ranges. Those in rural areas can practice in open areas with informal range set-ups.

      Hardly any taxes are generated by hunters who buy ammo used for hunting. Most ammo is used for marksmanship practice which is primarily recreational and only secondarily purposed to make hunting more successful. Why should recreational shooters carry the load for conservation?

      High volume recreational shooters usually re-load and don’t pay the tax which is only on manufactured ammunition. The P-R tax weighs lightly on these shooters and heavily on the self-defense user who only needs a few hundred rounds a year to maintain her skill. Such a self-defense shooter can’t justify buying the equipment and building the skills to reload her own practice ammo. It wouldn’t be safe to advocate reloading to individuals not committed to building the skills to do so safely.

      If P-R is put into the cross-hairs by this proposal the conservation advocates will turn against this proposal to defend P-R as it is.

        • Not sure where you get your information, chief, but post a link if you’ve got one. I personally put at least 200 rounds per month down range. I consider it irresponsible to do less. I want to HIT WTF I’m aiming at.

  3. More poppy cock from the Anti-Gun Radicals. Apparently, Gifford does not know that a gun can’t do anything violent. It’s an inanimate object.

    • “to help fund the work that is effective at preventing the enormous harms caused by their products.”
      Walter is exactly right. They will not accept the fact that, “their products” are inanimate objects.

  4. “Worse than doing nothing” is the soft underbelly of the gun-control movement.

    To sell a gun-control regulation the controllers must assert “But we must do SOMETHING!” To which the polity is inclined to agree. And, the proposed regulation seems intuitively to be constructive; and, of course, it IS SOMETHING. To feel virtuous, a voter must feel – REALLY FEEEEEEEL – that he is moving the ball forward toward a noble objective.

    If the voter’s objective is to harass lawful gun owners, then he will feel virtuous. But this is a divisive sentiment just as the desire to harass fellow citizens of a different political or religious persuasion; or those of a different racial or ethnic background. Hasn’t America disavowed such prejudice?

    For those who seek virtue in doing something EFFECTIVE to reduce “gun violence” our best target is to question the efficacy of each proposal. In so doing, we:
    1. are on-topic. The controllers are advocating proposal X and we are critiquing proposal X. We aren’t changing the subject; we aren’t just grinding our own axe.
    2. are talking about what matters to the audience, i.e., those who want to do something about “gun violence”.
    3. are challenging the controllers to debate us in a public forum. They won’t do this. And, then, we can call them out on refusing to debate. If their proposed regulation were such “common sense” as they claim, why do they shy away from defending their proposal.
    4. we have no need to respond to the challenge: ‘What alternative do you gun users propose?’ To take up that challenge is to change the subject. We are on topic, questioning alternatives is avoiding the topic.

    • This is a money grab to get extra funding to those groups opposed to second amendment rights. I don’t suppose they would support it if the language directed tax dollars to the evil NRA’s gun training programs or Eddy Eagle, or guns save lives shooting camps for kids.

      Also, if these proposed expenditures are so effective and great, they are already worth doing and the case could be made for them in general budget. This is just a proposal to tax something icky and redirect the money to your buddies, and if people just stop buying the icky stuff, that’s ok with them too.

    • It’s not really about feeling virtuous for most voters.

      These games play on fear for 95% of the people who support them. It’s the Twitterati that virtue signal about it but they’re naught but a very, very loud and vanishingly small minority.

      The people who think the current “soft on crime” policies are insane are missing the point. The point is to create the problem so that a pre-packaged solution can be offered to allow the public to feel that they’ve done something to deal with the root of their fear.

      Over a long enough timeline they win one way or another.

      It’s the same trick they pull with the War on Drugs and people fall for it again and again and again because it’s a damned good trick if you aren’t initiated into how it works. The result is bigger government and a stronger police state while the people get weaker and easier to abuse.

      These piddling items like taxes though, are losers and they know it. They’re nothing but a bone thrown to the base. There’s a reason that they’ve backed off the throttle on gun control to a large degree even when they’re hyper-aggressive about everything else. It’s because they see other options towards control of guns and everything else and they don’t want an issue that energizes the opposition to get in the way (which is why they’re so hot about denying the existence of CRT, to try to squash that issue).

      The Swiss Bank of International Settlements has explained a big part of it to you, if you care to listen.

      The theme here might not repeat exactly but it rhymes in every instance when it comes to what the progressives are doing. They’re breaking critical things all over the place in an effort to sow chaos and fear, fear which they will then offer to remove… for a price.

      • “…it rhymes in every instance when it comes to what the progressives are doing. They’re breaking critical things all over the place in an effort to sow chaos and fear, fear which they will then offer to remove… for a price.”

        Bingo. Cause the problem, then conveniently offer to ‘fix’ it, by voting for them…

  5. Doing nothing is worse than doing anything as far as government is concerned.
    We live in an age where a successful legislative body is measured by how many bills it passes alone. Not the substance of the bills, the stated goals of the bills or even in time the quantifiable affect of those bills. Simply the number of bills.

    Government hates doing nothing even when doing nothing is only reasonable course.

  6. What is most disturbing about the responses on the original article is the one by Michael Binder. He advocates nothing less than complete confiscation of all guns and ammo.

  7. “We’re essentially not looking to punish anyone to deter anyone from purchasing weapons… we’re asking a very profitable industry to pay a modest surtax on their profits to help fund the work that is effective at preventing the enormous harms caused by their products.”

    Bullshit. They want the precedent so that they can expand it later and use the Ratchet Effect to their advantage.

    This argument is every bit as fallacious as the argument progs advance that the income tax was developed because income inequality rather than due to battle over tariffs in Congress.

    And that tax was also only 7% on incomes over $500K when it started.

    • I came here to call bullshit on that as well.

      If Giffords et al. truly believe that enormous harm is caused by the firearms industry and its customers, then they SHOULD be trying to punish and deter all who participate in it. It’s their moral duty.

      But instead, they modestly propose to skim a little profit off the top. Not to deter or punish the lucrative death-and-violence business, you understand…just to spread some money among their own friends and fellow travelers who are also only pretending to care.

      Whether you’re pro-gun or anti-gun, that’s despicable.

      • Same bullshit with masks.

        They scream and cry that Florida and Texas are “killing people” and then walk around without masks themselves, or like AOC, go to Florida and do it.

        Doesn’t that make them murderers since they *know* it kills people and then still do it?

        Rules for thee something something.

  8. “Freilich’s argument: While higher taxes on guns and ammunition would not discourage weapons purchases…”

    Except that’s likely the actual agenda.

    Politicians are often dumb, but they are rarely fools. For example, I doubt anyone on the Seattle city council is bemoaning the failure of their gun and ammo tax to produce anything near the revenues they claimed it would. I have even less doubt that some of them rub their hands in glee every time another gun shop moves out of the city to avoid the tax. It’s a feature, not a flaw.

    When you can’t ban a thing outright, you throw up barriers to access. Make it difficult and/or expensive enough to discourage people and drive businesses away. It’s never been about “safety” or raising money.

  9. Yeah sure, we the legitimate gun owners pay an additional tax to support and pay…. for the illicit activities and problems for and caused by all the “ne’er-do-well”, gang activity personnel, and the empty cranium headcases that are “breaking the law harming and killing people in violence situations!”

  10. A tax on firearms and ammunition to help mitigate the cost of the damages done with them.
    Sounds fair. While we’re mitigating costs and looking for ways to punish the percieved evils of society, I propose another tax I propose a 25% tax on all alcoholic beverages. With the funds collected to be used to mitigate treatment costs and help those whose lives have been destroyed by alcohol abuse. That would be fair. Have all those who make, distrbute, market, sell, or purchase alcoholic beverages help cover the cost of the damages caused by drunk drivers, abused spouses, children sufferinf from fetal alcohol syndrome, etc.

    Either scheme just adds another layer of bureaucratic nonsense to the lives of the law abiding and will do nothing to help the victims of crime or of accidental deaths.

  11. This is how fighting global warming works.

    Make cars get 10% more efficient in the next 5 years! Meanwhile China and the shipping industry can dump pollutants like mad but auto makers have to reduce Co2 output by 0.000001PPM by spending billions of dollars and sacraficing nearly all reliability of the vehicle and passing on that repair burden to the customer who already paid an extra price for the vehicle so it could pass the emissions.
    Trump knows this, he’s said it, that’s why he called the Paris agreement bullshit.

    Now we have farmers and fire equipment that shuts down when needed the most and costs astronomical amounts to repair or replace just so a cargo ship can burn waste oil at sea.

    GTFO

    • You’re not keeping up. Now city dimwits are demanding BATTERY POWERED FIRE ENGINES. Good bet that fed $ are paying for the BS.

      • Oh i know!
        I thought it was bad when I had to choose a gas engine for my Ambulances due to the emissions equipment maintenance costs on the diesels and deal with 2MPG, now they want electric powered HEAVY equipment and our closest hospital is 45 minutes away.

        If I didn’t have kids I would sit back and watch the shit show burn down.

    • Very, very, VERY few people have any idea how much pollution those big ships put out. That bunker fuel they burn once they get out of sight of land is truly toxic. While in sight of land, they burn much cleaner fuel that you might pump into a diesel truck. Out at sea, it’s rolling coal.

      • Paul Do you have any idea of “how much pollution those big shops put out”? Electricity is not the answer until a battery is developed that can last thousands of miles.
        Most modern day ships do not burn coal, they burn oil. Nice try! Oh did I forget to mention that “climate change” is a hoax?

        • Walter, you should look up bunker fuel. Paul is not referring to carbon, but to toxins. And “rolling coal” is a common euphemism for the intentional tuning of a diesel engine to produce a cloud of black smoke. Paul used those terms to convey the idea that these ships are significant sources of toxic pollution while in international waters. He knows that they don’t burn actual coal. Furthermore, bob and neiowa are being sarcastic.

        • Nero “diction, not grammar…” Wolfe Just how would you transport cargo across the sea without ships? You “climate change” folks don;’t seem to understand that unless you can make your “climate change” ideas cost effective you are going to bankrupt the shippers, the distributors and the people who buy products.

  12. Sounds like it might fly.
    Son of a beach,
    it’s just about to the point that only a rich man can have a firegunm .
    I think I can see the plan they’re seeing.

  13. Using their logic, we should have higher taxes on blacks, and use those funds to fight the violence perpetrated by blacks. Not?

  14. Before taxing gun entities to address “gun violence, how about taxing the parents…..the manufacturers…..of the root cause of “gun” violence. It’s not the guns, it’s the Defective Citizens causing the problems. DUH!!!!! But,pardone me. Curing the “gun violence” problem is not their agenda. It’s using the violence as the justification to disarm citizens. BINGO…..

  15. The entire purpose for this tax, as well as all other gun control, is to discourage blacks from buying guns. Especially poor blacks. The democrat party has been abundantly clear over the years on this. All laws lead to disarmed blacks.
    Maybe thats a worthy goal. I dont know. But if the communists are fer it, I’m agin it..

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