Taxes on Guns and Ammo Explored

Published 03/11 2013 12:14PM

Updated 03/11 2013 12:17PM

If you can't ban 'em, tax 'em.

Lawmakers looking to more tightly regulate firearms in the wake of the Newtown school shooting and other massacres are moving at the state and federal levels to introduce new taxes on firearms and ammunition. 

The proposals range from the modest -- a proposed 5 percent tax in New Jersey -- to the steep -- a proposed 50 percent ammo tax in Maryland. The bills follow efforts to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and expand background checks, measures that have had mixed success at the state level. 

The taxes -- much like so-called "sin taxes," like those on cigarettes -- serve a dual purpose. They can deter buyers, while using the extra revenue for favored programs. In this case, the sponsors want to direct the money toward mental health services, police training and victims' treatment. 

But firearms groups say a "sin tax" on firearms wrongly punishes law-abiding gun owners. 
"If anything, gun owners ought to be getting a tax rebate for helping reduce crime," said Lawrence Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. 

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