A $1,000 per gun tax should serve as a “role model” for states, according to the governor of the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands, which imposed the $1,000 gun tax earlier this month. An idea first endorsed by Hillary Clinton in 1993, steep gun taxes have now taken hold in Cook County, Ill. the city of Seattle, and now a U.S. territory.
At what point does a tax on firearms go from a legitimate taxing power to a direct attack on the Second Amendment? The $1,000 per gun tax does that.
The power of Congress to tax is generally beyond constitutional review. In a famous line from a famous case over 200 years old, Chief Justice John Marshall declared that [t]he only security against the abuse of [taxation] is found in the structure of the government itself." In other words, if the electorate is dissatisfied with a tax then the people should elect representatives to repeal that tax.
Thomas Cooley wrote over 100 years ago that "the power to impose taxes is one so unlimited in force and so searching in extent, that the courts scarcely venture to declare that it is subject to any restrictions whatever, except such as rest in the discretion of the authority which exercises it.
But without getting into the minutiae of the legal arguments, some scholars and some cases have also delved into the theory that taxation can amount to an unlawful taking under the Fifth Amendment. I'd like to argue that a $1,000 tax on a firearm is an unlawful taking of property without due process and just compensation, except that I haven't purchased the firearm because I can't afford the $1,000 tax on top of the price of the firearm itself.
Which leads me to this argument.
What if a $1,000 tax on a firearm is a limitation, if not an outright prohibition, on the individual right to keep and bear arms? If an individual could legitimately show that a $1,000 tax effectively prohibits that individual from exercising his right to keep and bear arms, could the tax be held unconstitutional on the grounds that it prohibits the exercise of that right?
While all of this is interesting legal theory to a lawyer, it should nonetheless cause non-lawyers to perk up and pay attention to a subtle movement taking place around the country - taxing firearms in an attempt to limit the purchase of firearms.
The threat of such a tax serving as a role model for other politicians to impose is not an idle one. Consider the following:
Seattle Gun and Ammunition Tax: On Jan. 1, 2016, Seattle’s $25 per gun tax took effect, as did a two cent to five cent tax per round of ammunition. The new taxes have already forced at least one major gun dealer to leave the city.
Cook County, Ill. Gun and Ammunition Tax: On June 1, 2016, Cook County’s new ammunition tax takes effect, at a rate of one cent to five cents per round of ammunition. The ammo tax comes on top of the existing gun tax regime of $25 per gun.
Hillary Clinton’s 25% Gun Tax Endorsement: In passionate testimony to the Senate Finance Committee in 1993, Hillary Clinton gave her strong personal endorsement to a new national 25% sales tax on guns and endorsed a steep increase in the gun dealer fee, to $2,500. "I am speaking personally, but I feel very strongly about that,” said Clinton at the conclusion of her endorsement.
A $1,000 tax on firearms is simply the latest attempt by the leftist in the United States to limit, if not outright destroy, your natural, God-given right of self-defense. It is, simply, an attempt to limit and ultimately destroy the Second Amendment.