Liberals are trying every tool at their disposal this year to go after guns. They have failed on Capitol Hill to restrict the Second Amendment, so they are moving through the states to enact their agenda.
The latest maneuver is to hike the tax on guns and ammunition to dissuade the law-abiding from buying firearms. It’s the perfect storm of liberalism — more revenue for a bigger government and fewer people keeping and bearing arms.
President Obama’s hometown of Chicago started the movement late last year by enacting a $25 tax on new firearm purchases, which went into effect on April 1. Cook County stopped just short of adding a levy on ammunition.
In February, Rep. Linda T. Sanchez, California Democrat, and 26 of the most uber-liberals in the House introduced a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code to create an excise tax of 10 percent on any concealable gun in order to empower Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to establish a firearms buy-back grant program.
Since the Newtown, Conn., school-shootings tragedy, anti-gun states across the nation have introduced similar measures.
A new bill in the House would prevent this infringement on the Second Amendment. Rep. Sam Graves introduced legislation on June 13 that would make it illegal for states and municipalities to raise taxes or fees on firearms and ammunition. The Missouri Republican’s proposal would also prevent raising taxes in order to pay for background checks. “The Constitution says ‘shall not infringe,’ ” Mr. Graves told me in an interview Thursday.
“When you place this outrageous tax on the sale of ammunition and firearms, it’s intended to curtail those rights.” Congress has authority to do this under Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution to regulate interstate commerce, which these taxes suppress.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents the manufacturers, and the National Rifle Association both endorsed the Graves bill, which will go through the House Judiciary Committee.
Massachusetts is considering a 25 percent excise tax on all firearms, ammunition and parts as part of its overall gun-control agenda. The Nevada Assembly is moving on a bill to impose a $25 tax on each gun and 2 cents for each round of ammunition sold by a dealer.
Connecticut legislators proposed this year a 50-cent sales tax on ammunition. Washington state is considering a proposal to tax every firearm sold at retail at $25 (lowered to $15 if the buyer springs for a gun safe or gun lock) and 1 cent on each round of ammunition.
The states with the most radical proposals are Maryland and Connecticut, both of which are proposing raising taxes on ammunition by 50 percent. Alcohol, which is not guaranteed by the Constitution but leads to more deaths than firearms, is the only other item in the Free State that is taxed higher than the 6 percent sales tax, but it is only 9 percent.
Several other states are also going after bullets because they are purchased more often than guns. A bill introduced in New Jersey proposes a 7 percent levy on ammunition sales. The California Assembly is considering a bill to impose a 5-cent-per-round levy on retailers for “the privilege of selling ammunition.”
These costly measures disproportionately affect lower-income people, who often live in higher-crime areas. Along with other costly mandates, such as maintaining liability insurance, these restrictions would likely be overturned as unconstitutional by the courts.
“This is no different than a poll tax — but on the Second Amendment,” said Lawrence Keane, general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. “These anti-gun politicians are clearly trying to unduly burden the exercise of the Second Amendment by pricing firearms and ammunition out of reach of many law-abiding Americans. Mr. Graves‘ bill will put a stop to these sinister schemes.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Graves correctly points out that the gun grabbers’ efforts have backfired so far. “The Obama administration has tried to capitalize on some unfortunate instances to try to slow down the sale of firearms and ammo.
The irony is that the pressure to outlaw or control the sale of firearms, it just accelerates sales. It’s like pouring gas on a fire.” The number of FBI background checks were up 27 percent in March, leading to the Senate vote the next month on Mr. Obama’s gun-control agenda. The national instant criminal-background checks were up 20 percent in April.
Liberals love to raise taxes to push their social agenda, whether to push us out of our cars, stop us from smoking, force us to eat low-fat foods or curtail our drinking of alcohol.
In their worldview, individuals are not capable of being responsible for their own health and well-being, so they need the nanny state to enforce proper behavior via their pocketbooks. However, unlike cigarettes and martinis, guns are guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.
The House should pass the Graves bill quickly to show the states that their gun-grabbing scam will misfire.
Emily Miller is a senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times.