California Unions Cite Gun Control in Support of Keeping High Taxes in Place

AP Photo/Marco Garcia, File

If California Democrats get their way, voters won't have the opportunity to weigh in on the “Taxpayer Protection Act" this November. Gov. Gavin Newsom has been vocally opposed to the voter referendum, while Democrat legislators are urging the state Supreme Courtt to remove the referendum from the ballot altogether. 

Some public employee unions in the state are taking a different approach: warning that gun control efforts would be hindered if the tax relief measure is approved, which honestly sounds like a win-win for me. 

The California Business Roundtable, which is behind the referendum, says if adopted, the Taxpayer Protection Act would, among other things, require voter approval of any state-level tax increases adopted by lawmakers before they could take effect. And yes, as it turns out, that would indeed impact the new 11% excise tax on firearms and ammunition set to take effect in July.

The business group argues this will help relieve Californians from more taxes that they say are overly burdensome, strain the economy and make the state an unaffordable place to live.

But the unions’ missive contends the proposal would also put at risk several programs that lawmakers have passed since the beginning of 2022 that were predicated on tax changes because it would take effect retroactively on Jan. 1 of that year.

“The measure would also overturn recent legislative wins, including new laws funding gun violence prevention, mental health, paid family leave, and disability insurance, environmental programs and the Film and Television Tax Credit,” the letter, dated today, states in bold text.

The argument builds on a core opposition complaint: that the initiative would make it nearly impossible for schools and local governments to generate needed revenue.

The California Business Roundtable dismissed the argument as political fear-mongering with little to no legal basis.

They conceded the guns and ammunition tax would have to be approved by voters within a year of the measure taking effect, or it would be repealed. But they said policies like the film credit, paid family leave and disability insurance would not be affected because the Legislature didn’t present them as tax increases.

Yeah, Democrats were more than happy to tout raising taxes on the purchase of firearms and ammunition, even while disguising other increases. Democrats want the film industry in the state, but they're doing their best to utterly annihilate the firearms industry. 

Topher L. McDougal, a University of San Diego professor who supports the new excise tax, says some estimates show gun sales could decline by almost 50% once the tax takes effect; not a bug, but a feature of the tax as far as anti-gunners are concerned. 

It’s unclear how the new tax will affect gun violence. In theory, it should be highly effective. In 2023, some colleagues and I modeled the U.S. market for firearms and determined that for every 1% increase in price, demand decreases by 2.6%. This means that the market should be very sensitive to tax increases.

Using these figures, another colleague recently estimated that the California excise tax would reduce gun sales by 30% to 44%. If applied across the country, the tax could generate an additional $1.5 billion to $1.9 billion in government revenue. 

... So, California laws seem to already be making a difference in reducing gun violence. The excise tax could accomplish still more. If it does, other states may follow California’s lead and work to reduce firearm violence by hitting gun manufacturers at the spot they value most — their bank accounts.

Given the far-left tilt to the state, it may very well be the case that California voters would approve the 11% tax on guns and ammo if they were allowed to weigh in. But I don't know for a fact that would happen, and it sounds like Democrats and their union allies are terrified about the possibility of having the tax overturned at the polls. 

Of course, that's not the only reason they're opposed to the Taxpayer Protection Act. If voters have a say in how much money the state is taking from their pockets, it will have a direct impact on public employee unions like the Service Employees International Union and California Teachers Association. California's already dealing with a $68 billion deficit in FY 2024-2025, and the easiest way to address that gaping hole in the budget is to force taxpayers to turn over more of their hard-earned money to Newsom and state officials, who will in turn pass on some of that cash to unionized state employees and educators in the form of pay raises and increased benefits. 

The Taxpayer Protection Act sounds pretty good to me, even if it had no impact whatsoever on the sky-high taxes on guns and ammo that are set to take effect in a few weeks. The fact that the Act could potentially undo the impending excise tax is even better. If these unions are truly worried about a lack of money for "gun violence" research, I do have a suggestion, however. How about union officials give up 11% of their salaries to fund those studies?

At the very least, providing the funds for this anti-gun research should come from all Californians. Why should lawful gun owners be forced to pay to study the acts of criminals? If this truly about public safety then every California taxpayer has a vested interest in funding this research, right? 

It's pretty clear what the real intent behind the tax hike is: reducing the number of guns sold in the state by pricing people out of their Second Amendment rights. Labor unions might think they're screwing gun makers by keeping the excise tax in place, but the real impact is going to be felt by average, everyday citizens who can no longer afford to exercise their right to keep and bear arms.