I have been thinking about this a lot over the past few days but I am not going to try and parse things too much. I am probably barely going to edit this. I am just going to blow through a stream of thought and see what comes out. Just keep that in mind because for a tax policy proposal this is going to be light on math. I will throw some numbers out there but they are pulled out of memory and thin air excluding plus a couple of links I had bookmarked earlier.
I live about 30 or so minutes from Newtown. I have sold a couple of cars to people who live in the town including one to a teacher at the High School. I also went to Virginia Tech. I had classes in Norris Hall. My roommate for all but Freshman year spent his Freshman year in Ambler Johnston West. I had met both professors that died at Virginia Tech though I did not know any of the students as it happened four years after I left.
I grew up around guns. They were always locked up and I actually did not even know where my dad kept his guns but they were around. My dad didn’t hunt anymore after a close call deer hunting. Too many hunters and not enough deer. That doesn’t seem to be as much a problem anymore as the opposite is more the case. Uncles, grandfathers and cousins had guns though but they were always secured. I started shooting at 7, air rifles of course, a BB gun first then pellet rifles and pistols. I enjoyed shooting and I was good. Better then 20/20 vision and quick reflexes help. I sucked at baseball though so go figure.
I started shooting pistols as a teenager and did some competition shooting. Mainly timed events with limited rounds. Fastest time to shoot five targets with six rounds for example. I was good at that to regularly beating grown men 20, 30 or 40 years my senior. I enjoy guns and I do not have a problem with them. I have a problem with how irresponsible as individuals and as a society we have become with guns. They need to be secured. Other common sense restrictions need to be enacted. Unstable individuals should have as close to zero access or opportunity as possible to obtain guns. There needs to be a way to identify these individuals ahead of time and there needs to be a treatment available for them. All of that will take money. Probably lots of money but there is a way to get that money.
This is my proposal. Tax ammunition to fund some sort of national mental health program. I want to tax guns too but ammunition should be included as well. Freedom Group alone, which is the largest small arms manufacturer in the US, sells some two billion rounds of ammunition a year so tax it and point the revenue stream at a problem that we are not addressing.
Go read this post I am Adam Lanza’s Mother and tell me we do not have a problem with mental health. Like the writer says no one wants to put a teenager in jail and that is not a solution to the problem. The status quo is not working and just enacting gun legislation that restricts certain types of firearms and their accessories is not going to be enough. You need a revenue stream to try and deal with mental health issues in disturbed children and young adults.
I have not thought out the details yet and as I said I am not going to through all the math right now but just roughing up some numbers I see something like this. Making things too complicated is bad but I think there should be a couple of different levels instead of just a flat percentage of the sale price.
Rim-fire ammunition is taxed at the lowest rate. This is almost exclusively .22 caliber rifle and pistol ammunition. Something like ten cents per 100 rounds seems right. Ammunition and firearms are currently taxed by the feds and that revenue is directed into wildlife conservation.
Higher calibers would be taxed at a higher rate and it would be a straight percentage of the sale price. Maybe there is a distinction between rifle rounds and pistol rounds but I am not sure. I would separate all shotgun ammunition at a slightly lower rate then rifle or pistol ammo. Add a separate tax on loose gun powder for handloaders.
I would also add in a mental health tax surcharge to all firearms purchases. Straight flat percentage of the sale price all pistols, rifles and shotguns. These do not need to be huge percentages to make a difference. If you read gun blogs or see crazy stuff posted by the NRA and its affiliates then there is stuff about increasing the tax on ammunition by 500 percent, 10,000 percent or some other astronomical percent and other such nonsense. Taxing anything at that rate would destroy the market for the product and dry up your revenue stream.
Freedom group alone has sales totaling over 670 million dollars just through September of this year. They will easily crack a billion dollars this year and that is just one company even if it is the largest one. Five percent of a billion dollars is $50 million. What sort of mental health program could you set up with that? The total dollar amount spent on firearms and ammunition is more then one billion dollars annually. Currently pistols and revolvers are taxed at 10 percent of the sale price will all other firearms and ammunition at 11 percent.
Tack a few more percent, plus the flat cents per XXX round on rim-fire ammunition, on to generate another hundred or so million and set up some innovative mental health care programs. Use some of the revenue stream for dedicated therapists in schools who would be trained to identify at risk students. I do not know much about mental health so I am not sure what the best types of programs would be but other there are people who can figure that out.