An 11% gun and ammunition tax may become a reality for Californians, as AB 28 recently passed the Senate Public Safety Committee.
This tax would be in addition to the 10-11% federal tax already in place for all firearm and ammunition purchases. The federal tax helps fund wildlife conservation efforts.
AB 28, sponsored by Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills), would create an 11% excise tax for the retail sale of firearms, firearm parts, and ammunition in California. The proposed law would generate $160 million to help fund the Gun Violence Prevention, Healing, and Recovery Fund set up in the California Treasury.
On July 11, the bill was introduced to the Senate Public Safety Committee and presented by Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley). Numerous organizations and individuals spoke out in support of the state gun and ammo tax, including Mike McLively, policy director at Gifford’s Center for Violence Intervention.
“Californians are paying the price literally and figuratively for the increase in gun violence. The average homicide costs Californian taxpayers $2.5 million and the annual cost of gun violence is $22.6 billion annually with $1.6 billion being paid by taxpayers annually” said McLively.
The bill passed the committee on a party-line vote with Democrats Skinner, Steven Bradford (Gardena), and Scott Wiener (San Francisco) in favor and Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (R-Yucaipa) opposed. The bill now goes to the Senate floor to be heard and voted on after Senate returns from summer recess.
Where the Money Would Go
Below is a breakdown of how the AB 28 revenue would be disbursed:
- The first $75 million to be continuously appropriated for the California Violence Intervention and Prevention (CalVIP) Grant Program, to fund CalVIP Grants, administration, and evaluations of CalVIP-supported programs.
- The next $50 million to the State Department of Education to fund school mental health and behavioral services and school safety measures, and physical security safety assessment.
- The next $15 million to the Judicial Council to support a court-based firearm relinquishment grant program to ensure the consistent and safe removal of firearms from individuals who are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms and ammunition pursuant to a court order.
- The next $15 million to the Department of Justice to support evidence-based activities to equitably improve investigations and clearance rates in firearm homicide and firearm assault investigations in communities disproportionately impacted by firearm homicides and firearm assaults.
- The next $2.5 million to the Department of Justice to support activities to inform firearm and ammunition purchasers and firearm owners about gun safety laws and responsibilities.
- The next $2.5 million to the Office of Emergency Services to provide counseling and trauma support services to direct and secondary victims of mass shootings and other gun homicides and to individuals who have experienced chronic exposure to community gun violence.
- The next $1 million to the University of California, Davis, California Firearm Violence Research Center, if accepted by the Regents of the University of California, for a one-time grant for gun violence research and initiatives to educate health care providers and other stakeholders about clinical tools and other interventions for preventing firearm suicide and injury. The bill provides this allocation may be made over the course of more than one budget year, but cannot exceed $1 million.
AB 28 Had Strong Support in Attendance
Numerous organizations were present during the hearing to support AB 28 and gun violence prevention. Among the support groups present were more than 35 members of Moms Demand Action, 61 members of United Playaz & West Bay Organizations, and seven members from Movement for Life.
Multiple cities and counties sent a representative to share their support. Among them: San Francisco Board of Supervisors and San Francisco City Mayor’s Office, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the city of San Jose, and the San Diego City Council.
Opponents Say Bill Is the Wrong Way to Address Gun Violence
The opponents included the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Gun Owners of California, California Rifle and Pistol Association, the NRA, and the California Waterfowl Association,
“We think the CalVIP program is good, we want to see it funded as well, but adding an excise tax on all firearm sales and ammunition sales is not the right way to go, and in fact is a little bit dangerous,” said Michael Finley of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
Mark Hennelly, vice president for California Waterfowl Association said the added tax would deter people from taking part in shooting and hunting activities.
“The bill basically will double what we have in excise taxes… and if you add up the other taxes we are looking at a 30% tax on all firearm and ammunition. To us that is a major disincentive then for people to participate in hunting and shooting sports,” Hennelly said.