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California Considering "Sin Tax" For Gun Buyers

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The idea of a sin tax is to make it more expensive to do things the government feels are bad for you. For example, you pay more for cigarettes, gambling, or alcohol because those are considered bad. I don’t like sin taxes simply because I’ve never trusted the government to really have my best interests at heart.

Even if I think they’re sins, I don’t want the government making that determination. After all, how long until they decide something is a sin where I don’t agree?

Well, that day is here.

Why do legislators in anti-gun jurisdictions so often try to “balance the budget” on the backs of law-abiding gun owners?

That’s the question some are asking now that lawmakers in California are considering an extra 10% tax on handguns and 11% tax on long guns, gun parts and ammunition. California A.B. 1223, sponsored by Assemblyman Marc Levine (D), would create the additional excise tax and earmark the money to fund grants for social programs.

Called the “Gun Violence Prevention, Healing, and Recovery Act,” the measure makes no bones about blaming lawful gun owners, makers and retailers.

“Firearms, ammunition and firearm precursor parts sold by licensed dealers and vendors of these products contribute to high rates of gun violence, and broader human, mental health and economic harms,” the legislation states. “Gun dealers, for example, are the leading source of firearms trafficked to illegal markets, often through straw purchases, as well as negligent losses.”

This last line is a blatant lie. Study after study has found that criminals get their guns by stealing them, by buying them illegally on a black market and so on.

While the measure states that the new tax is a “modest and reasonable excise tax on sellers whose lawful and legitimate commercial activity still imposes enormous harmful externalities on California’s families, communities and taxpayers,” it ignores an important fact about taxes. No matter what a retailer sells, if taxes are raised, that increase is nearly always passed on to the purchaser—in this case only law-abiding gun buyers, since criminals usually get their guns in other ways.

That is, of course, a valid point.

Another thing to consider here is that while a sales tax for all goods is one thing, a tax targeting guns specifically is a tax on the exercise of a constitutionally protected right. I fail to see how this is anything but a variation of a poll tax remade for something a bit less popular than voting. In fact, while Democrats in Sacramento are trying to put a gun and ammo tax in place, the Illinois Supreme Court will soon decide whether a similar tax in Cook County is a violation of our constitutional rights.

The plaintiff in the case, “Guns Save Life”, a non-profit best known for erecting pro-gun signs on the side of highways, argues the intent of the tax was to make it more difficult for Illinoisans to purchase guns and violates their Second Amendment protections.

Prior to oral arguments, Guns Save Life’s plaintiff’s brief referenced various statements made by County Board members when the policy was first passed, to convince the court of bias against firearm purchases in the board’s legislative intent.

“At least we’re going to make it difficult for people to have guns,” County Board Commissioner Deborah Sims said in November 2012. “If you can’t afford it, you won’t buy it.”

Just like Cook County’s tax, Levine’s legislation will make it more difficult for lower-income Californians to purchase firearms and thus exercise their Second Amendment rights. It won’t stop wealthy politicians or Hollywood celebrities, but it will stop people in much more dire financial straights.

Why do California Democrats hate poor people so much?

Plus, as already noted, criminals get their guns via illegal means.

Of course, for California’s anti-gunners, law-abiding citizens buying guns are the real problem. It’s why the state throws up roadblock after roadblock to make it more difficult for lawful gun sales to occur at all, despite ample evidence of where the criminals get their weapons in the first place.

That would require California lawmakers to actually care about reducing violent crime, rather than just look at gun owners as politically acceptable whipping boys. That and as people with deep pockets they can fleece to make up the budget shortfalls resulting from their efforts to spend like there’s no tomorrow.

Honestly, I don’t understand why gun-loving Californians stick around. I get that some don’t feel they have a choice, but it might be time to hit the ejection seat and get out while you still can.

Dec 04, 2021 11:30 AM ET