California, often at the forefront of liberal policies, has recently stirred controversy with its implementation of a new excise tax on guns and ammunition. Under Assembly Bill 28, a new 11% tax will apply to retail sales of ammo, guns, and firearm precursor parts in addition to the 7.25% CA sales tax and respective local tax. AB-28 was signed into law on September 26th, 2023, and will take effect on July 1st, 2024. The Golden State’s lawmakers argue that this tax is a necessary step toward curbing gun violence. However, the move has sparked heated debates, with proponents emphasizing public safety and opponents decrying it as an infringement on Second Amendment rights. The tax aims to generate revenue at the expense of those who exercise their constitutional rights to bear arms.
The new 11% tax on firearms targets businesses and applies to the retail sale of guns. California gun manufacturers will be forced to obtain a firearm and ammunition excise tax certificate of registration from the CDTFA. This certificate has no expiration date, and does not cost anything, however the CDTFA can revoke this certificate at any time if they feel the company is non-compliant. While the tax is directed at businesses, gun owners are worried that the prices will increase to account for the extra taxes.
Some businesses will be exempt from the tax, such as police officers and businesses that operate under the sales threshold of $5,000 per quarter.
Representatives of the firearm industry communicated concerns about the potential negative impact on their businesses and argue that responsible gun owners are being unfairly targeted. They indicate that the extra taxes are going towards anti-violence and school safety programs which benefit all Californians, therefore all Californians should have to contribute to this tax, not just the law-abiding gun-owning citizens.
Groups and individuals in favor of the tax emphasize the urgent need to address gun violence and argue that the funds generated can contribute to essential programs that enhance public safety. Some healthcare professionals support the tax, citing the strain gun-related incidents put on the healthcare system and the need for resources to treat victims. Opponents argue that the new tax infringes on the constitutional right to bear arms, making it more challenging for law-abiding citizens to exercise their rights. The California Rifle and Pistol Association has expressed interest in filing a lawsuit to combat it. “It’s a poll tax. It’s a tax on exercising a constitutional right,” said Chuck Michel, President.
California’s new tax on guns and ammunition reflects the ongoing national debate on how to balance individual rights with public safety concerns. While proponents see it as a proactive measure to address a growing issue, opponents view it as an encroachment on constitutional rights. Furthermore, while California has been a pioneer in liberal policies to combat violence, the crime rate in California has increased by 6.1% in 2022. As the implementation of the tax unfolds, it will be crucial to monitor its effectiveness in achieving its intended goals and effects on the industry.