Washington State Proposes Additional Tax For Ammunition
Washington state Democrats have proposed a controversial new tax on residents for the "privilege of using ammunition" in an effort to combat gun violence.
The bill, named House Bill 2238, was introduced by fifteen state Democrats and has been referred to the legislature's committee on finance for consideration.
The proposed legislation aims to impose a use and sales tax on the retail sale of ammunition. According to the bill, this tax would be in addition to the federal, state, and local sales and use tax currently in place. However, it would not apply to sales to state, local, or tribal governments for the purposes of supplying law enforcement agencies.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) has already expressed its opposition to the bill, referring to it as a "clear unconstitutional assault" on law-abiding citizens. Aoibheann Cline, the NRA's Washington director, stated in a press release that the organization stands against the legislation and will fight against it.
State Rep. Jim Walsh, chair of the Washington State Republican Party, also criticized the proposed bill, calling it "a poorly-conceived and sloppily-drafted piece of work." He further mentioned that the reference to "the privilege of using ammunition" in the bill's text is "amateurish rhetoric" and exposes legislators who support the bill to ridicule. Referring to the right to bear arms as a privilege goes against the language of both the federal and state constitutions, which clearly state it as a right, not a privilege.
The Democrats behind the bill justified their efforts by citing the threat posed by gun violence in the state. They stated that gun violence remains a persistent health and safety concern for people across Washington, with one person being killed by a firearm every 14 hours and almost half of all suicides being committed with a firearm.
If the bill were to become law, the tax revenue generated from the sale of ammunition would be used to fund programs aimed at preventing suicide and reducing firearm-related domestic violence. This includes suicide prevention programs and initiatives to combat domestic violence that involves a firearm.
However, opponents of the bill argue that the proposed tax is an infringement on their Second Amendment rights and will only penalize law-abiding citizens. They also question the effectiveness of such a tax in reducing gun violence and argue that it unfairly targets sportsmen and hunters who use ammunition for recreational purposes.
In addition to the criticism from the NRA and the Republican party, the bill is also facing pushback from Washington residents, who are currently rejecting tax hikes proposed by the state. Critics point to the state's constitution, which states in Article 1, Section 24, that "the right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired." They argue that this language is clear and that the proposed bill goes against the state's own constitution.
It remains to be seen whether House Bill 2238 will gain enough support to become law in Washington state. However, with strong opposition from powerful organizations like the NRA, as well as criticism from state Republicans, it is unlikely that the controversial legislation will pass without a fight. The bill's fate will ultimately be decided by the legislature's committee on finance, but the debate over the tax on the privilege of using ammunition is far from over.