Tax Bullets

It’s bad enough that nine people lost their lives in the 10-minute rampage in Isla vista last month, but it is even more outrageous that local taxpayers are paying for the carnage. We pay for ambulances, emergency rooms, crime scene investigators, nurses, coroners, social workers, and rehabilitation for victims. Business owners pay for cleanup costs and property damage. How can we tolerate the absurd situation that one individual’s right to bear arms is outweighing everyone else’s right to life and public safety?

I am writing to my state representatives in Sacramento and local officials to propose a bill placing a heavy tax on bullets. Such a tax would generate revenue to reimburse local governments for the costs incurred when mass murders and gang violence strain the resources of our cities and counties.

The tax should be only on ammunition, not a threat to gun ownership. A heavy tax on bullets would not violate the Second Amendment, and so it should not trigger the resistance we have seen to even the most reasonable gun-control measures. If vendors require valid IDs and keep track of customers who purchase large quantities of ammunition, they could notify law enforcement authorities when a buyer appears to be stockpiling ammunition.

The Isla Vista murderer had legally stockpiled over 400 rounds of ammunition to vent his anger randomly on female strangers and hapless bystanders. Only the quick action of his therapist and sheriff’s deputies prevented him from carrying out his plans for even greater slaughter.

Additional benefits of the special tax might result. It would make more funds available to local governments for gun-safety education, mental health services, reduction of gang member aggression, and rehabilitation of victims. One side benefit might be comparable to the tax on cigarettes, which has reduced smoking among teenagers. If a high tax discourages teenage gangs and young adults from buying ammunition, so much better for all concerned.

As for purchases over the Internet, we already require Internet vendors to collect sales taxes, so this additional tax should be manageable. Those who bring ammunition from other states should be treated like those who bring in illegal fireworks. Background checks should be made on those bringing in large quantities.

Of course, it would be best if we had a uniform policy for all 50 of the States, but we cannot wait for federal government action. California could, however, develop a model for other states to emulate.

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