CA Legislature Approves New Taxes on Gun and Ammo Sales

Assembly Bill 28 by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, a Woodland Hills Democrat, would impose an 11% excise tax on retailers and manufacturers for sales of guns or ammunition. Modeled on a similar federal levy for wildlife conservation, the tax could bring in an estimated $160 million annually for violence intervention programs, school safety improvements and law enforcement efforts to confiscate guns from people who are prohibited from owning them.

“We’ve passed a lot of good gun safety laws,” said Gabriel. “The data shows that we have a lower gun death rate here in California than we do in other states. But this was one of the big things that was still out there.”

Lawmakers unsuccessfully pursued sales or excise taxes on guns and ammunition — which face a higher two-thirds threshold for approval — half a dozen times over the past decade, some of which never even got a hearing.

That made Thursday particularly momentous for supporters. In the morning, Gabriel and several Assembly colleagues watched a lengthy floor debate in the Senate from the back of the chamber. Democrats narrowly approved AB 28 over the objections of Republicans, who said busineses would simply pass the cost onto customers, an unfair burden for sports shooters and hunters who frequently buy ammunition.

After a final vote in the Assembly hours later, Gabriel was bombarded with congratulatory hugs.

“I’m going to cry. I’m going to cry. What a journey,” said Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, an Oakland Democrat whose husband leads the gun control organization Giffords.

The bill now goes to Newsom, who has until Oct. 14 to sign or veto. Though he has been a vocal proponent of adopting more gun safety laws in California, a spokesperson for Newsom declined to comment on the measure.


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