Gun Rights Groups Take California's Gun Tax to Court

AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File

The state of California only pays lip service to the idea that gun control is meant to impact criminals. I mean, proponents there tend to say all the same things you hear from anti-gunners elsewhere, but then they trip over themselves to do things that literally no one can begin to argue will impact the bad guys. For example, they restrict which firearm models can be purchased in the state. They know criminals import guns easily enough, but they still have that law on the books and they lose their minds if you suggest repealing it.


But perhaps the most egregious example is their new tax on firearms.

Yes, it's stupid and evil, but it's also a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Well, it was. Now, the wait is over.

The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), along with several other gun rights groups and individual plaintiffs, has filed a lawsuit in San Diego County Superior Court challenging California’s recently implemented 11% tax on firearms, gun parts, and ammunition.

The lawsuit, named James v. Maduros, targets Nicolas Maduros, director of the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration.

Joining SAF in the case are the California Rifle & Pistol Association, the National Rifle Association, the Firearms Policy Coalition, and two private citizens, Joshua Gerken and Danielle Jaymes.


“We are challenging the constitutionality of the tax, as adopted by Assembly Bill 28,” explained SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “We contend in the lawsuit that this 11 percent tax is unconstitutional because it literally taxes conduct protected by the Second Amendment. There is no analogous evidence such a tax was ever applied at the time of the Founding era, as required by the 2022 Supreme Court Bruen ruling.”


Frankly, this amounts to a poll tax, which is blatantly unconstitutional. You cannot be charged a fee to exercise a constitutionally protected right, such as voting. You can't charge people a fee to stand outside the courthouse with a sign saying the government sucks. You can't charge a fee to worship in a given church.

So why do these people think they can charge a tax to purchase a gun over and above a standard sales tax?


The sales tax gets a pass because it's not specifically targeting a right. You're charged X percent for most or all purchases--some states have exemptions or discounted sales tax for some goods--but that's across the board. Everyone pays it and it has nothing at all to do with the right itself.

This is different. This is meant specifically to make it more costly to own a gun, thus discouraging many from doing so. That's the goal and we all know it.

My hope is that the courts see this and act accordingly.

However, it's going to be a lengthy process before that happens. How many people will die because they couldn't afford a gun they could use to protect themselves within the meantime? The truth is that we'll never know, but that still doesn't excuse such blatantly unconstitutional actions.

I get that California doesn't value people's rights, but they don't have to be so blasted obvious about it.

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