Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) has come up with a brilliant idea on how to at least partially address the scourge of gun violence and mass shootings in this country — despite the opposition of the NRA-purchased Republican Party to passing any meaningful gun regulation legislation. Congressman Beyer announced planned legislation that would impose a 1000% excise tax on AR-15-style weapons. The idea to massively tax, rather than simply ban, assault weapons was spurred by recent massacres in Buffalo, New York; Uvalde, Texas; and Tulsa, Oklahoma which left 36 innocent people dead.
Beyer told Business Insider, “We think that a 1000% fee on assault weapons is just the kind of restrictive measure that creates enough fiscal impact to qualify for reconciliation.”
Scooplet: @RepDonBeyer (tax-writing Dem on Ways amd Means) is drafting a bill to impose a 1000% excise tax on the AR-15 style weapons at the center of the recent carnage in Texas, NY, and Oklahoma.
The measure is meant to bypass the GOP in reconciliationhttps://t.co/VwM6VNRCm9
— Joseph Zeballos-Roig (@josephzeballos) June 5, 2022
Beyer is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, and his bill would allow Democrats to pass the legislation with a simple majority by using the budget reconciliation process and thereby circumventing any Republican filibuster. It is a plan that could actually work…as long as all 50 Democrats can get on board with the bill, not a certainty given the past defections from Democratic unanimity by Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV).
AR-15s can range in price from as little as $500 to upwards of $2000. Beyer’s proposed tax could add up to $5000-$20,000 to the final receipt and could be a significant factor in slowing the number of assault weapons actually sold in this country, if passed.
Don Beyer’s taxation proposal isn’t the first attempt by Democratic lawmakers to find a “creative” way to reduce gun violence and ownership. In 2020, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced S.3254 – the Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act of 2020 – raising the minimum age to purchase guns, restricting the import, sale, and manufacture of large capacity firearms, and removing limitations on civil liability for gun manufacturers.
As far back as 1993, then-Senator Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) introduced legislation to raise the wholesale price of handgun ammunition to 50%, according to the New York Times. Moynihan told the Senate:
“Guns don’t kill people, bullets do. It is time the Federal Government began taxing handgun ammunition use in crime out of existence.”
A report by James Curcuruto, Director of Industry Research and Analysis for the National Shooting Sports Foundation in 2013, said that “158 million pistol and rifle magazines were in U.S. consumer possession between 1990 and 2012.” With magazines holding more than ten rounds, making up 46% of them. The report went on to state:
“Figures from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Annual Firearms Manufacturers and Exports Reports (AFMER) show that between 1990 and 2012, United States manufacturers produced approximately 4,796,400 AR-platform rifles for sale in the United States commercial marketplace. Approximately 37 different manufacturers produced these rifles, including Smith & Wesson, Colt, Remington, Sig Sauer and Sturm, Ruger. During these same years, figures from the U.S. International Trade Commission (lTC) show approximately 3,415,000 AR- and AK-platform rifles were imported into the United States for sale in the commercial marketplace.”
For decades, Democratic politicians have been trying to pass legislation aimed at both protecting Scalia’s interpretation of the Second Amendment in the Heller decision and protecting the lives of American citizens. While Beyer’s proposed legislation is still in the beginning stages, it’s a step in the right direction towards impactful gun reform legislation finally being passed. And if it can be done without any help or approval from the GOP – it may even have a chance of becoming law.
Whatever the outcome of Beyer’s efforts, it’s clear that Democrats will have to try every creative solution at their disposal — from gun taxes to ammunition taxes to the reinstitution of the assault weapons ban that worked so well in the 1990s — if they hope to stop the horrific trend of mass shootings in America.
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