While California Democrats are looking to jack up the taxes on guns and ammunition in their latest attempt to punish those exercising their Second Amendment rights, the Republicans in charge of the West Virginia legislature are moving in the opposite direction. On Thursday, Gov. Jim Justice signed H.R. 2499 into law, which will remove the state’s sales tax on firearms and ammunition starting on July 1st.
Del. Gary Howell, the primary sponsor of the bill, tells Bearing Arms that in addition to scrapping the sales tax on firearms and ammunition, the legislation also offers important tax credits to manufacturers, making the state an even friendlier home to the firearms industry.
As Howell explains it, the new bill creates tax incentives on the cost of equipment for manufacturing small arms and ammo, reducing the amount of property tax that companies will pay in return for building their manufacturing facility in the state.
Additionally, West Virginia-based firearms and ammunition manufacturers will now be allowed to use the federal excise taxes that they have to pay as a tax credit against any state-level tax bill. Howell says his hope is that with the new legislation in place, gun and ammo manufacturers won’t have to pay any state taxes, making the state an attractive environment for companies looking to relocate from anti-gun blue states to friendlier pastures (and hollers).
The end of sales taxes on firearms and ammunition may be the most visible feature of new law, at least from a consumer’s perspective. The sales tax rate in West Virginia is 6%, so while ammunition may still be hard to find, it will be a little less expensive for purchasers beginning later this year.
Compare West Virginia’s pro-business, pro-consumer, and pro-Second Amendment legislation to the attempts to raise taxes on gun owners by anti-gun Democrats in California. On Tuesday of this week, the proposed 2A-tax hike passed out of the Assembly Public Safety Committee, and could soon head to the Assembly floor for a vote, where the Democrats who dominate the state legislature are expected to offer their full support.
If passed, AB 1223 would place a $25 excise tax on the purchase of each new gun and a yet to be determined levy on ammunition sales. The bill would raise millions of dollars towards violence prevention programs. In a press release, Levine cites the need to “end the public health crisis that is gun violence in California.”
The Democrats haven’t figured out just how bad they’re going to soak legal gun owners with their new ammo tax, but that’s not stopping them from moving forward on the legislation in the meantime. And don’t forget, under California law it’s actually illegal for gun owners to purchase ammunition out-of-state and then bring it back in to California. Even if you live in a border town like Needles, the state expects you to drive several hours west to the nearest California gun store rather than simply drive across the border into Arizona to visit one of several shops in nearby Lake Havasu City. If you dare to buy your ammo in Arizona instead, you could be looking at criminal charges.
Obviously I think West Virginia has a much better model at work, both in terms of protecting the Second Amendment rights of residents and encouraging a pro-business environment designed to help create good-paying jobs. Kudos to Del. Gary Howell and all the lawmakers in West Virginia for supporting HB 2499, and thanks to Gov. Jim Justice for signing the bill into law.