California Democrats are rallying once more to initiate an excise tax on all firearm deals in the state.
Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel, D-Woodland Hills, along with 13 other Democratic Assemblymembers, is sponsoring a bill that would impose an 11% excise tax on all retail sales of firearms, firearm parts, and ammunition in California.
The funds would be collected by the state and deposited into the Gun Violence Prevention, Healing, and Recovery Fund, established in the state Treasury.
Guns Already Subject to Federal Excise Tax
Assembly Bill 28 states that the funds would be used towards various gun violence prevention, education, research, response, and investigation programs. The new tax also would be on top of a federal tax of 10% to 11% that gun owners pay on firearms and ammunition. Those proceeds fund wildlife conservation efforts.
However, Assemblywoman Mia Bonta (D-Alameda), who supports the bill, pointed out that the taxation rate for buying a gun is lower than purchasing cannabis in California. The state’s cannabis excise tax is 15% and local jurisdictions also tax the product. Fresno, for example, tacks on 4%.
If passed, the gun and ammo excise tax would take effect on July 1, 2024.
Advocates Cite Need for Gun Violence Prevention
On April 11, the bill passed the Committee of Public Safety and has now been referred to the Committee of Revenue and Tax with a “do-pass” recommendation.
Current legislation places a 10% excise tax on all handguns and an 11% tax on the sale price for ammunition and all other portable weapons such as rifles and shotguns.
“Californians are counting on us to do everything we can to keep our children safe from mass shootings and gun violence.” Assemblyman Gabriel shared in the committee hearing.
“They are counting on us to exhaust every effort to ensure that their children do not live in fear in school, places of worship, local park, local mall, theater or anywhere else because they will die to gun violence.”
Mike McLively, policy director at Giffords Center for Gun Violence Prevention, spoke in strong support of the bill and shared that gun violence has become the No. 1 killer of young people in the U.S.
He also opined that the tax should not affect people deciding whether or not to buy a new gun
“This tax is reasonable. It’s modest. It is in no way designed to prevent people from purchasing firearms or protecting their Second Amendment Rights.”
He furthered his contention by pointing to tobacco excise taxes as high as 60%.
Multiple organizations came in support of AB 28 including multiple volunteers with Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action, Every Town for Gun Safety, Giffords Center for Violence Intervention, and the Brady Campaign.
What Bill Opponents Say
Heavy opposition was expressed by Daniel Reid, NRA Western Regional Director, and other organizations including U.S. Sportsman Alliance, Gun Owners of California, CRPA, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Congressional Sportsman Foundation, Black Brant Group, Cal Hawking Club, San Diego Waterfowl Association, Riverside Sheriffs Association and more.
“Gun owners are already saddled with a lot of taxes and fees. The Cal VIP program is fully funded and I think that is something that we should continue to fund through the budget and not put it on gun owners who are exercising their Second Amendment right.”
The Public Safety Committee voted to pass AB 28 bill through to the Revenue and Taxation Committee on a 6-2 vote.
The bill is set to be heard in the Revenue and Taxation Committee on Monday, April 24.