NY Democrats roll out bill taxing every round of ammunition

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File

Everything is getting more expensive at the moment, but a pair of New York lawmakers want to single out ammunition for another price hike; this one a mandatory tax on every round of ammunition sold in the state.

Brooklyn Sen. Andrew Gounardes and Albany Assemblywoman Pat Fahy have introduced a bill that would impose a new five-cent per-round tax on all ammunition .22 caliber or greater, with a two-cent per-round tax on .22 ammo and smaller projectiles. If approved, New York would become the only state to impose a special tax on ammunition purposes, though there are several cities across the country that have similar measures in place.

Those measures have failed to bring in as much money as supporters predicted, however. In Seattle, for example, a tax on both guns and ammunition has been in place for six years, but as the Second Amendment Foundation’s Dave Workman recently detailed, the tax receipts are far less than what was promised by politicians.

At that time, as reported in August 2015 by The Stranger, the office of chief tax proponent Tim Burgess predicted the tax of $25 on the retail sale of each firearm and 5 cents for each centerfire cartridge, and 2 cents on each rimfire cartridge would bring in between $300,000 and $500,000 annually.

Based on the new revenue figure for 2021, it was snake oil; a pig in a poke. Burgess is no longer on the council, but his then-colleague, who voted for the tax, was Bruce Harrell, who is now the mayor.

According to the City of Seattle, last year the tax collected $165,416. That is down from the highest point of $184,836 the city reported for 2020.

Of course, it’s easy enough for Seattle gun owners to avoid paying the tax, because they can simply shop at suburban stores or online outlets. A statewide tax would be harder to ignore, and one gun store owner is already slamming the bill as an egregious attempt to inhibit the exercise of a constitutionally-protected right.

“We probably sell more ammunition than firearms because people already have firearms, and need more ammunition,” said Joe Johnson, manager, Armageddon Arsenal Supply.

… Johnson says the price of ammunition has fluctuated during the pandemic but says this tax is expected to be a hefty cost.

“This, adding 2 cents to something that’s only 2.7 cents, you literally just about doubled your cost,” he said.

Johnson says if the bill is passed, north country gun owners will have to bite the bullet.

“If you know that’s your Second Amendment right, you’re going to say, ‘I don’t care what the cost is. I’m going to do it anyway.’ But in the long run, the state wins because guess what? You’re going to do it anyway and they’re getting that extra tax on it,” he said.

Well, some people will bite the bullet, so to speak, but others will absolutely curtail their ammunition purchases and cut back on training because of the increased cost. Other gun owners, particularly those who live close to the borders of Pennsylvania and Vermont, may choose to simply drive across state lines and purchase their ammunition there (though with gas at $5.00 a gallon that might not be all that cost-effective).

I’m also curious to see how the state would try to collect the excise tax on ammunition purchased online, which would be the easiest way for New Yorkers to avoid paying extra for every round of ammo. I didn’t see anything in the bill’s current language about online sales, but I wouldn’t be surprised if lawmakers try to amend the legislation to make it as hard as possible for New Yorkers to bypass the tax in the coming days.

You can read the bill for yourself here. So far, the measure has not had a committee hearing, and hopefully this is one of those bills that gets introduced and goes nowhere. Given the anti-gun ideology of a majority of New York lawmakers, however, I don’t think gun owners can assume that will be the case, and now’s a good time to start speaking out against this attack on the Second Amendment rights of New Yorkers.