California enacts first state tax on guns, ammunition in US

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a first-in-the-nation state excise tax on firearms and ammunition purchases into law on Tuesday, with the goal of earning $160 million per year to reduce gun violence in schools and elsewhere.

The California excise tax, which is set to take effect in July 2024, will essentially add an 11% levy on top of the existing federal excise gun and ammo tax, with rates ranging from 10% to 11% depending on the type of weapon.

California enacts first state tax on guns, ammunition in US
California enacts first state tax on guns, ammunition in US

The bill, which was part of a package of gun safety bills signed by Newsom, was passed four days after a federal judge overturned a California ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, declaring that it violated gun owners’ Second Amendment rights.

According to Newsom’s office, his action on gun safety comes “in the aftermath of shootings around the country that left at least 104 people dead in the last 74 hours.”

“While radical justices continue to strip off our ability to keep individuals safe, California will continue to fight – because laws protecting guns work,” Newsom, a Democrat, said in a statement.

According to research, the rate of gun-related deaths in California, which has some of the strictest guns rules in the country, is more than 40% lower than the national average.

The California excise tax would be levied on the gross receipts of gun and bullet makers, retailers, and dealers in the state.

The fee was one of almost two dozen gun safety laws passed by the Democratic-controlled California legislature during the most recent session, and it was signed by Newsom only days after his administration vowed to appeal last week’s federal court verdict on high-capacity magazines.

One major bill in Tuesday’s package aims to toughen California’s concealed weapons permit law, raising the minimum age for a gun owner to seek for such a permit from 18 to 21, boosting advance training requirements, and prohibiting alcohol use while carrying a concealed weapon.

California enacts first state tax on guns, ammunition in US

Sponsors said the bill, which would also prohibit concealed firearms in airports, surrounding schools, and other sensitive areas, was designed to withstand conservative judicial challenges.

Nonetheless, the California Rifle & Pistol Association, a gun rights advocacy group, announced on the social networking site X that it had already launched a “preemptive lawsuit” against the proposal.

Supporters of the new tax cited a 2021 analysis by gun control groups that claimed gun fatalities and injuries cost California $22.6 billion each year, $1.2 billion of which is paid directly by taxpayers.

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