Perhaps taking a cue from its neighboring state of Connecticut, on January 20, Massachusetts state Sen. Cynthia S. Creem (D) filed SD 1884, what the NRA is calling a “raft of gun control measures, not the least of which is a 4.75 percent “sin tax” on all lawful firearms-related activities.”
The bill says “an additional surcharge of 4.75 percent shall be imposed on sales at retail of all ammunition, rifles, shotguns, firearms or parts thereof.”
That’s on top of the licensing fees, the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax, and the 11 percent federal excise tax.
“(The bill) would also require virtually all firearm sales to take place through a licensed dealer, with an additional charge for private gun sales, requiring gun owners to use fingerprint scanners to deactivate the weapon when the technology becomes available, and bans .50-caliber weapons outright with a hefty fine and possible jail time if someone is found in violation of the law.”
The story says money from the proposed tax would go to the Firearms Violence Prevention Trust Fund, which the bill also establishes, and would “utilize such funds to establish an annual municipal grant program to support municipal violence prevention programs.”
“What’s the problem we’re trying to solve?” asked Jim Wallace, executive director of the Massachusetts Gun Owners Action League in the story. “Is it political, perceived or real? It seems it’s always been political.”
In this salemnews.com story, Jake McGuigan, director of government relations for the National Shooting Sports Foundation said, “This is yet another attempt to vilify lawful gun owners and retailers. It would force them to pay for crimes committed by violent felons.”
As with all legislation such as this, the main frustration is that the bill proposes monetarily punishing law-abiding gun owners for the transgressions of criminals that are in no way related to them and who are most likely people who would find illegal ways to find firearms no matter what. All with the extremely flimsy goal of funding a vague community outreach 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,” said the National Rifle Association in this post on nraila.org.
In the salemnews.com story, Creem said, “It’s like the tobacco tax, which is used for smoking cessation programs. This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve used tax dollars for prevention.”
“I do think people really do care about gun control, or at least having sensible gun use,” she said in the story. “I look at this as a way to still enjoy the lawful use of firearms.”
Adding up all the taxes residents would be forced to pay, the NRA said, “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.”
The NRA-ILA post points out that the previously mentioned Pittman-Roberts 11 percent federal excise tax on guns and ammo benefits the shooting sports for all Americans.
While Massachusetts has some of the country’s toughest gun laws and restrictions, but the numbers say those laws haven’t done anything to reduce gun violence.
The salemnews.com story says murders committed with firearms in Massachusetts have risen from 65 in 1998 to 81 in 2014, though the state still has the lowest per-capita rate of gun deaths in the nation—which makes one wonder what exactly is the need for more gun legislation in the state.
As of 2014, there were 6.74 million Massachusetts residents.