The Bears Steep Gun Tax Could Curb Some Very Deadly Weapons, But There Are Lags

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In response to two recent mass shootings, Representative Don Baer (R-VA) introduced a bill Which will impose 1,000 percent excise duty on some guns. Washington Post report That Bayer hopes to include it in a larger budget reconciliation bill that would allow it to pass the Senate by a simple majority.

The bill would raise prices for not only taxed guns, but similar guns that are exempt from the new tax because people want to buy those guns instead. But, while Bayer’s tax may limit access to certain types of weapons, it also contains loopholes that could defeat its purpose.

The tax would be paid by producers or importers of many types of guns, including semi-automatic pistols with threaded barrels (which can be used to attach silencers) and semi-automatic shotguns. Importantly, this would also apply to “semiautomatic assault weapons”, which would include semiautomatic rifles with removable magazines and any of the following features: pistol grip; forward hold; a folding, adjustable or removable stock; a grenade launcher; a barrel shroud; Or a threaded barrel. The bill does not specify any particular model of gun, such as the AR-15.

Though this tax is much higher than the current 11 per cent levy on rifles, it is similar in size to the tax imposed by the government. National Firearms Act of 1934. That law was passed in response to widespread gun violence at the time, such as Saint Valentine’s Day MassacreA mass shooting that killed seven people, and attempted assassination of elected President Franklin Roosevelt.

Its owners were required to register several types of weapons, including machine guns, and imposed a $200 tax on the transfer of these weapons. This equates to about $4,400 today, which is the tax Bayer levies on guns with wholesale prices of $440, and Washington Post Reportedly, AR-15-style weapons range in price from around $500 to over $2,000.

But Bayer’s plan probably won’t raise prices on guns subject to the tax. It would also increase the prices of similar guns that would be exempt from the tax, including those already in inventory owned by retailers and private citizens.

Rising demand for limited stocks of guns could drive prices up dramatically, making them out of reach for both legal and criminal uses. It will also be unexpected for current owners who choose to sell their guns.

However, those price increases may be limited because there is a huge market for parts and accessories, which would allow one to buy a feature-free and no-tax semi-automatic rifle and add features later. In addition, others may be willing to purchase a featureless rifle and use it without modifying it. Buying both of those types will likely drive up the prices of featureless rifles as well.

Recent tragedies have revived interests that reduce gun violence. Bayer’s hefty tax on some types of guns is similar to the historical taxes approach and could reduce gun violence by raising prices for weapons that are not directly taxed. But, by focusing on post-purchase tax features that can be added (or not added at all) it may do little to reduce mass shootings.

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