Rep. Donald Beyer (D-GA), a member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means panel, wants to impose a 1,000% excise tax on all AR-15-style firearms.
The price of a new AR-15-style gun ranges from $500 to over $2,000 depending on location. A 1,000% tax on such weapons would add $5,000 to $20,000 to their final sales price. This would make it especially hard to attain for young or low-income adults.
“What it’s intended to do is provide another creative pathway to actually make some sensible gun control happen,” Beyer said. “We think that a 1,000% fee on assault weapons is just the kind of restrictive measure that creates enough fiscal impact to qualify for reconciliation.”
Reconciliation is a tactic that can allow laws to bypass the Senate’s 60-vote requirement known as the filibuster. Under this process, a law can pass with a simple majority so long as every Democratic lawmaker supports it. Democrats previously used this strategy last year to approve a COVID-19 relief package and the House-approved Build Back Better bill.
Details of the bill have not yet been finalized and it is unclear when the tax would go into effect.
Law enforcement agencies and the US military wouldn’t be subject to the tax, Beyer said. The legislation would also apply only to future assault weapon sales — and not to the 20 million AR-15-style rifles already estimated to be in circulation across the US. Other guns used for hunting and other recreational purposes would also be exempt.
While bullets would be exempt from the tax, high-capacity magazines that can carry more than 10 rounds of ammunition would not be.
Beyer said he is open to negotiating the 1,000% tax rate. “There’s nothing magical about that thousand percent number. It’s severe enough to actually inhibit and restrict sales. But also successful enough that it’s not seen as an absolute ban.”
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