Anti-Gun Lawmakers Suffer Rare Defeat In California Legislature

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Given the Democratic (and anti-gun) supermajorities in the California State Assembly and Senate, the vast majority of gun control bills that have the support of party leaders end up becoming law. On Thursday, however, a proposal to impose a new statewide tax on the sale of firearms and ammunition went down to defeat, giving gun owners and Second Amendment supporters a rare victory in Sacramento.

The bill, authored by Assemblyman Marc Levine, would have created a new tax of 10% on all pistols; rifles, shotguns, ammunition, and firearms accessories also would have been taxed, but at a slightly higher rate of 11%. And while I’d love to report that imposing a tax on the exercise of a fundamental individual right proved to be too much for the socialists in the California statehouse, that wasn’t the case.

A majority of the Assembly’s 80 members voted for the bill. But because the bill would create a new tax, it required a two-thirds vote. The bill fell five votes short of the 54 required for passage. Democrats control 59 votes. But several Democrats come from more moderate districts, making a tax increase on guns a tough vote for them.

Despite the bill’s failure on Thursday, Levine said he believes it’s possible to revive the legislation later this year.

“California is in the midst of a gun violence epidemic that will only end when our leaders have the courage to do what is right and necessary to end it,” Levine said.

California’s been trying to ban, restrict, tax, regulate, and arrest their way to safety for decades now, and if their gun control regime was actually effective at preventing violence, we wouldn’t be seeing a 95% increase in homicides in Los Angeles County or similar crime spikes in other cities around the state.

Taxing legal gun owners isn’t courageous. It’s scapegoating law-abiding citizens while Levine and his fellow Democrats work to reduce the consequences for using a firearm in the commission of a violent crime.

Assemblyman Alex Lee’s office said he agreed to co-sponsor the bill “to correct decades of harm done to communities of color.” Staffers recently created a “fact sheet” that argues imposing stiffer sentencing laws added on to the charge of an underlying offense drives up incarceration rates, crowds prisons, and serves as “a legal monument to racism.”

“If a gun is used during a violent felony offense – such as a robbery – California’s ‘10-20-Life’ gun enhancement applies,” it said. “A 10-year enhancement is available for any use of a gun, which is increased to 20 years if the gun is discharged, and to 25-to-life if great bodily injury or death occurs.”

AB 1509, as the bill is known, would eliminate the use of most gun enhancements and significantly reduce the others, modifying them from 10-20-life to 1-2-3 years.

So, if I understand California Democrats correctly, sending violent criminals to prison is a “legal monument to racism,” while imposing new taxes on legal gun owners (taxes that will have a disproportionate impact on lower-income residents, I might add) is “right and necessary.” I wonder why these politicians think that a sentence enhancement for using a gun in an armed robbery is racist, but throwing people in prison for simply possessing a 17-round magazine isn’t. Sadly, I don’t think the lawmakers themselves could explain their position, which is incomprehensible and intellectually bankrupt.

No wonder people are fleeing California in droves and seeking sanctuary in saner states. I just hope that the Golden State refugees remember why they left in the first place and don’t try to bring these crazy ideas with them to their new homes. And for those gun owners left behind; hang on to your wallets, because it sounds like the legislature isn’t done with the idea of taxing you for exercising your Second Amendment rights.