Next week could be a doozy for gun owners in California, with the state legislature expected to take up a number of anti-gun bills. In addition to the state’s “carry killer” legislation, Democrats in Sacramento are also trying to advance a new punitive tax on firearms and ammunition, imposing an 11-to-13-percent increase in the cost of exercising your right to keep and bear arms.
It’s not the first attempt by lawmakers to jack up the price of guns and ammo, though previous efforts have failed to make it across the finish line. This year, however, the bill appears to be a priority for Assembly and Senate Democrats, who claim that the money raised from taxing the exercise of a fundamental right will make the state a safer place.
Lawmakers have tried at least six times in the last 10 years to tax guns and ammunition in some form. Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel, D-Woodland Hills, picked up the mantle this year by authoring Assembly Bill 28. It would levy an 11% state excise tax on sales from firearm and ammunition dealers, manufacturers and vendors. The estimated $159 million in revenue for 2024-2025 would fund violence prevention programs.
AB 28 has advanced further than any previous measures. The bill is currently parked in the Senate Appropriations Committee’s suspense file, where it will remain until the panel takes it up before the end of the month. The next stop would be the Senate floor for final consideration before heading to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk. Violence prevention groups are cheering the measure’s progress, even as firearm owner organizations worry it could negatively impact sporting and price out individuals looking to purchase guns for their safety.
The federal government already levies excise taxes of 10 to 11% on guns and bullets, with the proceeds going to fund wildlife conservation programs. If California lawmakers were to pass a tax, the state would join a group of local governments that add their own on top of the one paid nationally. Gabriel attributes some of the bill’s success to parental anxiety about child safety in an era plagued by mass shootings — many of them at schools. “I think if you talk to a lot of moms and dads out there, irrespective of whether they were Democrats or Republicans, (they) would be concerned about having their kids be safe in school and would want to do more to stop cycles of violence in our communities,” Gabriel said.
If the gun control activists who are cheering Gabriel on are correct, shouldn’t the nearly endless number of gun control laws in California already be doing that? And just as importantly, if the many restrictions already on the books aren’t working to stop the violence, then why should gun owners be singled out to pay for the gun control lobby’s failures?
Instead, it’s once again lawful gun owners who are being blamed for the actions of violent criminals, and who are being told to pony up to prevent crimes that they won’t be committing. This is a public safety issue that we’re talking about, and if lawmakers are intent on funding anti-violence efforts, then why not spread those costs out among every California resident?
We all know the answer to that. While the money raised from the proposed tax may be going to anti-violence groups, the goal of the anti-gunners is to prevent responsible citizens from exercising their Second Amendment rights, and hiking the price of firearms and ammunition is one way to do that. California already has one of the highest cost-of-living averages in the country, and raising the cost of firearms and ammunition will make gun ownership and regular training too costly for at least some residents.
California’s criminals, meanwhile, will still continue to obtain their guns and ammunition through illicit means, and there’s no guarantee at all that the groups funded by Gabriel’s proposed tax will operate under much oversight or transparency. We’ve seen incidents in the past where taxpayer funds were directed to “anti-violence” groups headed by guys who were illegally selling guns under the table, and this tax could prove to be a bonanza for anti-gun grifters and criminals operating under the guise of combatting the very violence they’re perpetrating.