Massachusetts anti-gunners have launched an effort to create a so-called “gun violence tax” ostensibly to pay for “violence prevention efforts,” and the prime sponsor launched her effort by insulting gun owners.
According to the Salem News, State Sen. Cynthia Creem (D-Newton) said the costs of “gun violence” are now “borne by taxpayers.” So, she thinks, “requiring gun buyers to pay a share of those costs is reasonable.”
Bay State gun owners might remind Creem that they are taxpayers, too. By trying to hit them with an additional tax that no other taxpayers are assessed, wouldn’t that violate the equal protection clause?
The proposal is to slap a 4.75 percent “surcharge” (a tax) on the sale of firearms and ammunition to “fund local efforts such as youth violence prevention programs and training for police to handle incidents involving mentally ill suspects.”
“I’m not trying to take guns away from people,” Creem asserted. “But we have a real problem with gun violence in this country.”
But is that accurate? According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports over the past several years, homicides involving firearms have declined. This decline has occurred during a period when gun ownership and concealed carry has actually skyrocketed.
A similar tax in Seattle, Washington is being challenged before that state’s Supreme Court. A second lawsuit — filed under the state’s Public Records Act — is also in the courts, although a judge recently denied a summary judgment request by TheGunMag.com and Second Amendment Foundation. They want the city to disclose how much revenue has been collected by the Seattle tax, which had been estimated to bring in between $300,000 to $500,000 annually. Opponents of the gun tax believe it has brought in only a tiny fraction of that amount and that Seattle does not want that to be revealed.
In Massachusetts, Jim Wallace, executive director of the Gun Owners’ Action League, said gun owners are already taxed for firearms and ammunition. It’s a 70-year-old federal excise tax collected under a program dubbed the Federal Aid to Wildlife Restoration program, or simply the “Pittman-Robertson Fund” for its two congressional sponsors.
But there is more. In reporting this story, the Salem newspaper stated, “Nationwide the number of Americans killed by gunfire increased to 36,252 in 2015 from 33,599 in 2014, according to federal data, which cited homicides as the primary cause.”
That may be misleading, since about two-thirds of annual firearms fatalities are suicides. In 2015, according to the FBI, there were 13,455 homicides of which 9,616 were committed with firearms.
The newspaper has apparently combined homicide and suicide data, and perhaps accidents, to come up with the larger figure.
In 2014, there were 8,124 gun-related homicides, according to the FBI. That’s a difference of 1,492 slayings between the two years. By that math, firearm homicides make up the largest portion of those additional deaths.
Still, that doesn’t excuse the use of combined homicide and suicide data to create the impression that there is a bloodbath in progress.
Lawmakers in Washington State are considering legislation to improve upon a suicide prevention effort started last year that has been championed by the Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association. This package asks for $200,000 to help fund the program that involves gun dealers, gun ranges and firearms instructors, pharmacists and suicide prevention experts.
Instead of arbitrarily penalizing gun owners, the Evergreen State project makes them a critical component.