Chris Rock Tax on Ammo

Just as a thought experiment, thought I’d throw out the Chris Rock tax.

A tax on ammo over a certain amount might do a lot to discourage gun ownership and might be easier to pass and face SCOTUS scrutiny. Rather than go gun by gun, clip by clip, and have a high hurdle and tough effort for each piece of gun legislation maybe we should just tax the bullets.


8 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. A fine idea

    But not mutually exclusive to other forms of gun security legislation.

  2. I believe this is unconstitutional

    I will try to find citations, but it’s established case law that taxing something which is legal to prohibit its use, practically and not legally, is not constitutional.

    • I don't think that's what is being proposed

      If I understand what jconway wrote, he’s not saying tax bullets so much that no one can buy them, just tax them enough to discourage casual purchases. Whatever the case law may be, millions of smokers will attest that ‘taxing to discourage’ is current practice.

      High taxes on bullets will not completely eliminate school or other public-place shootings, of course. If somebody has spent the money to acquire the bullets, then they or someone who’s stolen those bullets can still kill people. If it reduces the likelihood of such killing, then it’s worth doing. It’s the casual availability of lethal firearms that leads to the frequency of gun death in the U.S.

    • Nobody is seriously proposing

      the “Chris Rock tax” of $5,000 per bullet. But people are seriously proposing high taxes on bullets. We already have high taxes on, say, cigarettes, and there’s absolutely no reason we couldn’t do the same for ammunition. It’s an excellent idea.

      • I don't really get that its an excellent idea

        After all, my bet is that the people who buy the most bullets are also, by and large, responsible gun owners. I don’t know this for sure, but I’d bet that folks who buy a large number of bullets are using them at a shooting range, which is the place I’d like most gun owners to spend their shooting time.

        Conversely, I suspect that the folks who commit crimes with guns, whose poor handling results in unintended injuries and death from guns, and those who commit suicide use remarkably few bullets by comparison.

        Again, I don’t know if this is true or not, and I’d love to hear from gun owners.

        P.S. If you think that more expensive bullets would reduce the frequency or severity of gun violence, may I suggest prohibiting the sales of bullets with lead in them? The lead fragments end up all over our natural environment, collect in waterways, and work their way up the food stream eventually causing harm to humans. By prohibiting the sale of lead bullets, you’d both (a) increase the price of the bullets, and (b) reduce the harm that shooting bullets outdoors does to our natural environment and our own brain chemistry.

  3. Is there a reason..

    …for taxing the ammunition rather than the guns?

    • Maybe because bullets are expendable

      Guns last effectively forever. There are still firearms from the 19th Century being sold and used. Since there are currently about as many firearms as people in the country, taxing new firearms won’t have much effect. The supply of bullets, on the other hand, is constantly refreshed. They also have a shelf-life; old ammunition is unreliable. Taxing it at the point of manufacture or import would have a relatively quick effect.

    • Feasibility

      I would argue its more practical to pass this SCOTUS in a post-Heller environment, particularly in light of Roberts health care opinion. Similarly we have seen more NRA friendly legislators on both sides of the aisle embrace banning or limiting clips, perhaps a tax on ammo is also a more passable option. While I think Obama and Biden should push for assault weapons bans that go further than Brady, I know those efforts will fail to pass this House. We can use it as a bludgeon in 2014 with the Bloomberg/Giffords groups targetting vulnerable incumbents on this issue. But in terms of solid policy prescriptions that could be passed today this has to be high on the list.

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Tue 28 Mar 11:47 AM