A new tool has arisen in the gun control arsenal: punitive taxes.
Firearms consumers in Chicago will now pay and additional $25 for each firearm purchased. In California, a panel will hear testimony about imposing a 5 cent per bullet tax measure and New Jersey is debating a 5% tax added on to guns and ammo purchases.
“There are costs incurred as a result of gun violence which are borne by the general taxpayer — both social and economical,” California Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, who put forward a nickel ammo tax proposal in January, said in an interview. “There ought to be a cost … to those who want to buy firearms.”
While Connecticut passed sweeping gun control measure last week, two representatives “introduced a new 50 percent tax on bullets in the days following the Sandy Hook massacre — but neither made the cut in their states’ final gun control packages.”
Such taxes only encourage consumers not to buy guns from dealers but rather tax-free in private sales. While the gun control advocates want people to have a background check to buy a gun, doing so privately avoids the background check. It makes no sense to place a financial incentive to skirt the background check requirement if, at the same, time the gun controllers insist the checks are critical for public safety.
Only 1% of criminals in jail purchased their weapons in gun shops according to the tax opponents, which brings up the issue gun control advocates want to avoid: criminal control. These empty gestures of control that inconvenience law abiding gun owners do nothing to affect the criminal element that use firearms for criminal purposes. Criminals already operate outside the system, they do not purchase guns in stores or on the internet- they purchase them illegally (and tax free!) These punitive measure are an empty gesture that allows legislators to appear as if they working in the service of the public while avoiding the real issues that face high crime neighborhoods and cities.