More than three dozen House Democrats have signed on to a bill that doesn’t ban AR-15s and other modern sporting rifles outright, but simply ensures that only the wealthiest among us could afford to buy one.
It’s an odd position for uber-lefties like Pramila Jayapal, the Washington Democrat who heads the House Progressive Caucus, but she and other Democrats have apparently decided it’s fine to engage in a little class warfare as long as the outcome results in a gun ban for most Americans.
Virginia Democrat Don Beyer, who is the primary sponsor of the bill, says he’s designed it to be passed as part of a reconciliation package, which means it could be approved by bare majorities in the House and Senate instead of having to overcome a 60-vote filibuster threshold. That doesn’t automatically mean that the bill will be included in any future budget deal, but we’ve already seen Democrats play gun control games with budgetary matters, including trying to insert a federal red flag law for military members into the National Defense Authorization Act late last year. And if Democrats are successful in passing this tax, Americans would almost immediately begin to feel its effects.
The 1,000% tax would apply to military-style “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines capable of carrying 10 rounds or more, adding thousands of dollars to the final sales price of such guns in a bid to severely restrict their access. The cost of those weapons typically range between $500 and $2,000, depending on location and other variables. That means the plan would add $5,000 and $20,000 to the final price tag.
It would exempt ammunition, along with recreational weapons used for hunting. It also wouldn’t apply to the estimated 20 million AR-15-style weapons legally circulating around the US.
Yeah, they haven’t yet figured out a way to tax people for something they’ve already purchased… but give them time and I’m sure they’ll come up with something. In the meantime, Beyer and other Democrats are working to get the language included in a reconciliation bill that they hope to bring up for a vote this fall. Time is of the essence for those hoping to tax our rights into oblivion, because Democrats are almost certainly going to lose control of the House in the midterm elections, and they’ll be in no position to pass any gun control legislation starting next year.
It is a license tax—a flat tax imposed on the exercise of a privilege granted by the Bill of Rights. A state may not impose a charge for the enjoyment of a right granted by the federal constitution.… It is true that the First Amendment, like the commerce clause, draws no distinction between license taxes, fixed sum taxes, and other kinds of taxes. But that is no reason why we should shut our eyes to the nature of the tax and its destructive influence. The power to impose a license tax on the exercise of these freedoms is indeed as potent as the power of censorship which this Court has repeatedly struck down.… And the license tax is fixed in amount and unrelated to the scope of the activities of petitioners or to their realized revenues. It is not a nominal fee imposed as a regulatory measure to defray the expenses of policing the activities in question. It is in no way apportioned. It is a flat license tax levied and collected as a condition to the pursuit of activities whose enjoyment is guaranteed by the First Amendment.
Accordingly, it restrains in advance those constitutional liberties of press and religion and inevitably tends to suppress their exercise. That is almost uniformly recognized as the inherent vice and evil of this flat license tax.
A 1000% tax on modern sporting rifles would “restrain in advance” those constitutional liberties of keeping and bearing arms, with the stated intention of suppressing the exercise of those rights, and I think the Supreme Court would make quick work of this particular sin tax if it was ever signed into law.
Of course, it’d be much better if this bad idea was nipped in the bud, but right now it’s up to Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to figure out if they want to roll the dice and run on a “only the rich should have AR-15s” platform this fall. Democrats are already the party of $5.00 a gallon gasoline, so it wouldn’t be a stretch for them to become the party of the $20,000 AR-15 as well.