Maryland Bill Would Add Sin Tax on Gun, Ammo Manufactures and Sellers

AP Photo/Brittainy Newman, File

Taxes were a big part of the founding of this nation. Sure, it was taxation without representation, but it was also that one segment of the population was expected to shoulder the financial burdens of an entire people.


We could go on and on about taxes, but that’s not what we’re here for. We’re here to talk about guns and the Second Amendment.

Which is why I’m bringing up taxes, as a matter of fact.

You see, Maryland has decided that lawful gun owners and the companies that make and sell the products those gun owners buy need to be taxed even more.

Some Maryland lawmakers are proposing legislation to tax dealers and manufacturers of guns and ammunition to fund the state’s trauma system.

Del. Bernice Mireku-North (D-Montgomery), who will sponsor the Comprehensive Community Safety Funding Act in the House of Delegates, said an excise tax would generate an estimated $13 million. The money, Mireku-North said, would also come from firearms associated with mass shootings, which burden the state’s trauma systems.

“The trauma of gun violence is not an anomaly because gun violence is a public health crisis,” she said during a press conference Wednesday in Annapolis. “It’s far too commonplace, which is why we are working together to find comprehensive and common-sense solutions.”

The legislation hasn’t been filed yet, but Del. Emily Shetty (D-Montgomery) who will be a co-sponsor, said the money would fund the state’s Trauma Physician Services fund. She said it currently generates $12 million annually. An additional $9.5 million was appropriated in the fund for this current fiscal year, she said.

“The system needs more money,” she said.

Some of the money would also fund programs such as those through the Governor’s Office of Crime, Prevention, Youth and Victim Services, the state’s Homicide Victims Grant Program and a state center for firearm violence prevention and intervention, a bill Gov. Wes Moore (D) announced last week.

A similar excise tax law passed in California that goes into effect July 1. According to that state’s Tax and Fee Administration (FET), the “Firearm and Ammunition Excise Tax” requires licensed firearms dealers, ammunition venders and firearms manufacturers to register a FET certificate with the state. They must pay an excise tax of 11% of “the gross receipts from the retail sales of firearms, firearm precursor parts, or ammunition in California.”

Shetty said the excise tax idea came from serving on the Commission to Study Trauma Center Funding in Maryland. She said a final report could be released Friday.


Of course, Shetty–a name that clearly has the wrong vowel in it, based on her actions–thinks this is a wonderful thing and would help fund the trauma program in the state.

Yet there’s reason to be skeptical of her claims.

Sen. Chris West (R-Baltimore County) said the legislation could infringe on the Second Amendment of “law-abiding” gun owners and businesses. In addition, he said the state doesn’t house many gun manufacturers and could avoid paying taxes by not selling their products in the state.

“I haven’t seen the bill that is being proposed. But I’m dubious that any bill to extract millions of dollars from gun manufacturers or ammunition manufacturers here in Maryland would not produce the revenues that the proponents of the bill suspect. It sounds like a politically attractive thing to do for someone who’s running for Congress, but probably not something that will ultimately have a positive effect here in Maryland,” he said, referencing Elfreth’s campaign for U.S. House.

And West has a valid point. Maryland isn’t exactly eaten up with gun or ammo makers… or sellers, for that matter. How is a tax going to raise millions of dollars if there aren’t that many companies to tax in the first place?


That’s only one problem with this fiasco.

The bigger problem, at least in my mind, is that this is once again treating lawful manufacturing and sales of firearms and ammo as if that is what’s fueling the problem in Maryland and that law-abiding citizens who engage in a constitutionally protected practice need to be held accountable for the actions of others.

“But it’s not a tax on people, Tom, just businesses.”

There is no such thing, folks. Every tax on a business is a tax on customers. They’re not going to eat that cost just because they’re swell folks. They can’t afford to, even if they were so inclined. As a result, those taxes will get passed onto customers.

Of course, since this is on manufacturers and gun stores, that means Maryland-based companies will have a competitive disadvantage versus other companies making and selling similar products in neighboring states like Virginia, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. That’s likely to cost people jobs in the long run.

But they’re the wrong sort of jobs, so Maryland anti-gunners don’t care about that.


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