Gun Laws & Legislation

Warren’s Plan To Tax What She Can’t Ban

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Guns and Gear Contributor

By Larry Keane

Here’s a question for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren that someone should ask.

Why not just tax crime?

Seriously. She’s got a plan to tax just about everything, including guns. The Massachusetts senator, who is rising as a leader among Democrats vying for the party’s White House nomination, vowed to raise the excise tax on firearms and ammunition to make guns too expensive and suppress firearms ownership. Her plan calls for a 30 percent excise tax increase on guns and a 50 percent increase on ammunition.

Let’s Talk Taxes

Warren doesn’t say in her plan is the firearms industry welcomed the excise tax on firearms and ammunition. It’s called the Pittman-Robertson tax and it funds wildlife conservation. It’s the tax that’s responsible for plentiful whitetail deer, ducks, elk, antelope and turkey. It’s also responsible for conserving millions of acres of wildlife habitat and non-game wildlife, like bald eagles and even newts. The firearms industry is proud to have paid $12.5 billion toward this fund since 1937.

That’s not what Warren suggests. She wants to punish the firearms industry. In her own words, the goal is to “reduce new gun and ammunition sales overall and to bring in new federal revenue that we can use for gun violence prevention…”

Warren also claims it would “bring in new federal revenue” to fund enforcement of gun laws, both existing and the additional ones she’s proposed. What it really does is price the most vulnerable out market. It discriminates against the poor who would be unable to afford the cost of protecting themselves with firearms. One estimate, under the Warren plan, would see the cost of a $400 shotgun jump to $520.

Taxing A Right

Let’s be honest. Warren is talking about creating a poll tax for guns. No one would tolerate a tax on the right to vote or going to a church or even publishing thoughts on social media. Those are freedoms endowed by our Creator, just like our right to keep and bear arms. Warren would steam her glasses if President Donald Trump imposed a tax on books, movies and newspapers to reduce slander. Raising taxes on prescription medication to combat opioid abuse doesn’t make sense. Neither does saying a tax on guns to make them less affordable reduces crime.

This, of course, is just part of her plan, which also calls for universal background checks, bans on modern sporting rifles like the AR-15, age-based gun bans, bringing back Operation Choke Point to pressure banks from doing business with the firearms industry, a federal gun licensing scheme, repealing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act and locking up gun company CEOs for the criminal misuse of firearms.

If taxing guns would make these issues go away, why doesn’t Warren just tax criminals for their crimes? Maybe because she knows they wouldn’t pay it, any more than they obey the laws we already have on the books.

Larry Keane is Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association.