California looking at adding 11% tax to guns, ammo

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

We all know how California feels about guns. They’ve got the most extensive gun control regulations in the nation and it seems they’re always looking for more.

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And if they can make it harder for poorer Californians to get a firearm, so much the better, right?

At least, that’s how it looks from the outside, and that observation isn’t helped by a proposed bill.

California lawmakers approved legislation on Thursday to impose a new tax on firearms and ammunition sales to help finance gun-violence prevention and education programs, a victory for Democrats after years of failing to pass similar measures.

The legislation, Assembly Bill 28, would impose an 11% tax on dealers and manufacturers for sales of guns and ammunition, and is one of a small number of major gun control measures still moving through the Legislature this year. It’s the first time that Democrats have successfully sent a firearms tax proposal to the governor.

While Gov. Gavin Newsom has rejected or expressed resistance to imposing new taxes, he also has signed into law dozens of gun control measures. And after several mass shootings in schools across the country and two high-profile massacres in Half Moon Bay and Monterey Park this year sparked fresh outrage from advocates, lawmakers are under pressure to strengthen gun control in California, even as new laws face legal scrutiny and are often rejected by the courts for being unconstitutional.

Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, an Encino Democrat and author of the bill, estimates that it could generate roughly $160 million annually for violence prevention and school safety programs and victim-support services.

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And it’ll generate that money by making it harder for some of the most vulnerable people in the state to obtain the means to defend themselves.

I’m also more than a little annoyed that lawmakers always seem to think that lawful gun buyers should be saddled with paying the expenses created by people who, as a general thing, aren’t lawful gun buyers.

Few get that worked up over gas taxes because they know they put wear and tear on the roads and those taxes take care of that. Hunters have no qualms about their licensing fees going to pay for animal conservation efforts.

It’s one thing when you know you’re paying a tax that is tied to the thing you’re doing.

Yet this tax is still just a case of the innocent being forced to cover the acts of the guilty. And again, most of them aren’t going to buy their guns lawfully, so they won’t be paying this tax in the least.

And let’s think about what it will do to gun prices.

Let’s say a gun is selling for $500. On top of all other taxes, this will add another $55 to the price. That’s on top of sales tax and everything else. Coupled with the 7.25 percent sales tax, that takes that $500 firearm and raises the price to $591.25.

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It’s not difficult to see how that might keep some from being able to exercise their Second Amendment rights with a quality firearm under such a scheme.

While the bill has been discussed over the last few months, the state legislature doesn’t start its session until late next week. That’s when we’ll get a look at how much support this bill actually has.

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