Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

Taxachusetts: Bay State Politician Wants to Soak Gun Owners

Friday, February 24, 2017

Taxachusetts: Bay State Politician Wants to Soak Gun Owners

In an attempt to further punish Massachusetts’s beleaguered gun owners, on January 20, Massachusetts State Senator Cynthia S. Creem filed SD.1884. The legislation includes a raft of gun control measures, not the least of which is a 4.75 percent “sin tax” on all lawful firearms-related activity.

SD.1884 requires, “an additional surcharge of 4.75 percent shall be imposed on sales at retail of all ammunition, rifles, shotguns, firearms or parts thereof.” Contemplating that law-abiding gun owners would seek to avoid this surcharge by purchasing goods in neighboring states, the legislation also makes clear, “an additional surcharge of 4.75 percent shall be imposed on the storage, use or other consumption of ammunition, rifles, shotguns, firearms or parts thereof… purchased from any vendor or manufactured, fabricated or assembled from materials acquired either within or outside the commonwealth for storage, use or consumption within the commonwealth.” 

Massachusetts already has a sales and use tax of 6.25 percent. Therefore, a Massachusetts gun owner would be subject to an 11 percent state tax on the purchase of firearms, ammunition, and related accessories. All gun owners are already subject to an 11 percent federal excise tax on firearms and ammunition under the Pittman-Robertson Act. The mere idea of a 22 percent tax on the exercise of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is shameful in a state so critical to the founding of this great nation.

Of course, the Pittman-Robertson 11 percent federal excise tax on firearms and ammunition is for the benefit of the shooting sports, and is used to provide hunting and shooting opportunities for all Americans. Conversely, the surcharge imposed by SD.1884, would be used to fund a “Firearms Violence Prevention Trust Fund,” which state officials would employ to “establish an annual municipal grant program to support municipal violence prevention programs.” It does not take a pessimist to imagine how, under the stewardship of the Massachusetts state government, such a fund might devolve into a vehicle under which the state’s gun owners would be forced to directly finance the abrogation of their own rights.

In explaining her tax to the Salem News, Creem likened the exercise of the constitutional right to keep and bear arms to tobacco use, noting, “It's like the tobacco tax, which is used for smoking cessation programs.” Creem added, “To me, it's the same thing as paying a toll on the bridge for using the roads.”

Creem’s defense of her legislation has been disjointed. At one point she told Wicked Local Newsbank, “I look at this as a way to still enjoy the lawful use of firearms.” However, at another she admitted that her intent with SD.1884 is to curtail both legal and illegal gun ownership, stating, “I've filed gun legislation every session. I want to make it harder and harder to get guns in and get guns into the hands of people who shouldn't have them.”

As an attorney, Creem should know that the U.S. Supreme Court has frowned upon attempts to curtail constitutionally-protected behavior through targeted taxation. In Minneapolis Star Tribune Co. v. Minnesota Commissioner of Revenue, the Court held that a Minnesota use tax on paper and ink used in publishing violated the First Amendment. The Court explained, “A power to tax differentially, as opposed to a power to tax generally, gives a government a powerful weapon against the taxpayer selected.”

The Court came to this decision despite the fact that there was “no legislative history and no indication, apart from the structure of the tax itself, of any impermissible or censorial motive on the part of the legislature.” With SD.1884, Creem has been explicit about her motive of reducing lawful gun ownership.

And that is all that Creem could hope to accomplish with her tax, as criminals procure firearms outside the normal stream of commerce. A Department of Justice survey of state prison inmates found that the overwhelming majority (nearly 80 percent) obtained firearms through a “street/illegal source” or through “family or friend[s].” Drug dealers and armed robbers don’t typically file 1040s, and any firearm sales or use tax can expect a similar level of underworld compliance.

Moreover, such taxes wouldn’t affect criminal firearm use even in the unlikely event that the criminal element subjected themselves to it. In his widely-celebrated 1994 essay for the Atlantic Monthly, titled, “The False Promise of Gun Control,” George Mason University School of Law Professor Daniel D. Polsby pointed out that criminals are the least likely segment of the population to be affected by gun controls that raise the cost of firearms ownership.

Polsby noted,

Where people differ is in how likely it is that they will be involved in a situation in which a gun will be valuable. Someone who intends to engage in a transaction involving a gun—a criminal, for example—is obviously in the best possible position to predict that likelihood. Criminals should therefore be willing to pay more for a weapon than most other people would… The class of people we wish to deprive of guns, then, is the very class with the most inelastic demand for them—criminals—whereas the people most likely to comply with gun control laws don’t value guns in the first place.

Of course, all gun controls in some manner raise the cost of lawful firearm ownership, with taxation of firearms and ammunition merely being one of the more direct and visible methods. As for less direct - but even more substantial - costs, Creem’s legislation provides several.

The bill would require gun owners to conduct all firearm transfers through a licensed dealer pursuant to a background check. Massachusetts gun owners are already required to obtain a Firearms Identification Card, which is issued only after the applicant has been found to have met the state’s onerous licensing requirements and passed a background check.

The legislation also imposes a “smart gun” mandate on future handgun sales. The bill requires that in six months from “commercial availability” of handguns “equipped with personalized firearm technology,” the state’s approved handgun roster shall not include “any newly manufactured” handguns that are not equipped with such technology. The more intelligent gun control advocates have abandoned this approach, contending that a similar New Jersey mandate has stifled development of this technology.

SD.1884 would make it unlawful to “sell, purchase, rent, lease or possess a .50 BMG rifle or .50 BMG cartridge.” To justify the proposed ban, Creem relied on her feelings, telling a media outlet, “I can't see a credible reason why a civilian needs that kind of firearm.” The proposal prompted the Massachusetts Gun Owners Action League’s Jim Wallace to point out that .50-caliber rifles are often used in the shooting sports, and ask, “Has there ever been a crime committed with a .50 caliber firearm in Massachusetts? What's the problem we're trying to solve?”

This is apt question, given that crime committed using rifles is exceedingly rare in Massachusetts and the rest of the country. In 2014 and 2015 a total of one homicide was committed using a rifle of any kind in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, these figures have not deterred Creem from pursuing her legislation, and did not deter Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey from perverting existing state law to ban several types of commonly-owned rifles in 2016.

In recent years, gun control advocates have taken to describing nearly every proposed restriction, as “common sense.” In describing her bill, Creem told a reporter, “Some of these are just common-sense thoughts.” Gun control advocates should take issue with Creem’s use of this rhetoric. Using this language in an attempt to conceal the aims of such an uncommonly senseless piece of legislation threatens the little remaining credibility of broader movement’s carefully orchestrated messaging efforts.

TRENDING NOW
Activist Court Turns the Law Designed to Protect the Firearm Industry from Frivolous Lawsuits on its Head

News  

Friday, March 15, 2019

Activist Court Turns the Law Designed to Protect the Firearm Industry from Frivolous Lawsuits on its Head

On Thursday, the Connecticut Supreme Court created a dangerous new exception to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), a strong safeguard for our right to keep and bear arms.  

Canada’s Senate Holds Hearings on “Rube Goldberg” Gun Control Law, Bill C-71

News  

Friday, March 15, 2019

Canada’s Senate Holds Hearings on “Rube Goldberg” Gun Control Law, Bill C-71

Last month, the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence (SECD) concluded two days of hearings on Bill C-71, the Liberal government’s gun control bill. (An additional hearing date has been set for March 18, ...

Governor Bevin Signs NRA-backed Constitutional Carry

News  

Monday, March 11, 2019

Governor Bevin Signs NRA-backed Constitutional Carry

The NRA applauds Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin for signing Senate Bill 150 into law, an NRA-backed bill that fully recognizes the constitutional right of law-abiding gun owners to carry a concealed firearm.

Yesterday’s Scandal, Today’s Mandate: Anti-gunner Embraces Operation Choke Point as Official Policy

News  

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Yesterday’s Scandal, Today’s Mandate: Anti-gunner Embraces Operation Choke Point as Official Policy

On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) unabashedly embraced the tactics behind one of the most shameful policies of the Obama era, openly using the guise of her federal authority to berate and not so ...

Nevada: Omnibus Anti-Gun Bill Introduced, Legislator Bill Introduction Deadline Extended

Monday, March 18, 2019

Nevada: Omnibus Anti-Gun Bill Introduced, Legislator Bill Introduction Deadline Extended

Today, Assembly Bill 291 was introduced by Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui (D-41).  This omnibus anti-gun legislation is a threat to both gun owners residing in Nevada and those who are visiting. 

Levi’s Teams with Billionaire Michael Bloomberg to Attack Gun Rights

News  

Friday, September 7, 2018

Levi’s Teams with Billionaire Michael Bloomberg to Attack Gun Rights

Levi Strauss & Co. established its brand in the mid-19th century by selling durable clothing to working-class Americans. As Levi’s signature jeans gained popularity amongst a wider set in the middle of the last century, ...

Washington: Gun Ban Bills Fail Crossover Deadline

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Washington: Gun Ban Bills Fail Crossover Deadline

Today, March 13th at 5:00PM, was the cutoff deadline for all bills to be voted out of the chamber in which they originated.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Alert! Look Out ALABAMA! Here comes D.J. Parten's Bait & Switch

It looks like D.J. Parten is making a move on Alabama.  We’ve heard that he’s trying to establish himself in another state – Alabama.  So, if you know people in Alabama, forward this email to ...

Kentucky Governor Welcomes NRA to Bill Signing Ceremony

News  

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Kentucky Governor Welcomes NRA to Bill Signing Ceremony

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin welcomed NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox to a ceremonial bill signing for SB 150, an NRA-backed bill that fully recognizes the constitutional right of law-abiding gun owners to carry a concealed ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.