The latest Democratic lurch to the left combines two of their greatest dreams: raising taxes and punishing gun owners. Connecticut Democrats want to impose a punitive 50 percent tax on ammunition sales.
This proposed law will not keep criminals from obtaining ammunition. What it will do is penalize gun owners who engage in sport shooting, or who practice with their firearms. But shooting, whether in simple target practice or as part of more intensive training, is an important part of being a responsible gun owner. Taxing ammunition will only make gun owners poorer and less prepared, without preventing a single crime
Jillian Gilchrest, one of the sponsors of the Connecticut law, asked, “I’m hearing pushback about the need to protect one’s home…but how much ammunition does someone really need to do that?” The answer, of course, is however much ammunition is needed to achieve and maintain shooting proficiency. That Gilchrest’s legislation includes exemptions for military and law enforcement reveals that she is, at some level, aware of this need for training.
The Realities of Gun Ownership and Shooting Practice
Becoming and remaining proficient with a firearm requires regular practice, and that uses a lot of ammunition. I shoot through at least one 50-round box in a quick trip to the range, and may expend hundreds of rounds during an afternoon shooting with friends. Competitive shooters can use much more.
This is why many gun owners stockpile ammunition and buy it in bulk. If I see a good deal on 10mm practice ammo, I will stock up and save, rather than buying one box each time I take my Glock 20 to the range. Responsible gun ownership requires training with your gun, but Democrats want to make it much more expensive and onerous.
Making effective self-defense harder will not reduce crime. Rather, the right to self-defense is one of the best anti-crime measures available, and violent crime plummeted as gun rights were expanded nationwide.
But Democrats have not abandoned their gun control goals, and Connecticut’s latest folly is not an isolated case. Seattle has already imposed extra taxes on firearms and ammunition. And there are many other ways left-wing locales make life harder for gun owners. Chicago spent years trying to regulate shooting ranges out of existence, for example.
The Supreme Court is currently considering the constitutionality of a New York City law that prohibits lawful gun owners from “transporting that gun (even in a locked container, separate from its ammunition) anywhere except for one of the seven shooting ranges within the city.” There is no point to this existing law, except to make it more difficult for people to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
Making Life Harder For Law-Abiding Citizens
This harassment of gun owners exemplifies much of the gun control agenda, which is about making life difficult for the law-abiding, rather than preventing and punishing crime. Presumably this nastiness is satisfying for the many Democrats who despise any guns not in the hands of government agents.
However, there is an agenda beyond harassment. Intelligent gun control advocates know that most of the measures they are pushing would do little or nothing to reduce gun crimes. Restricting magazine capacity or banning so-called assault rifles is pointless if the goal of doing so is to “end gun violence,” but they are useful tactics as part of a larger campaign, especially when paired with the sort of harassing laws proposed in Connecticut.
Combining progressively tighter restrictions on firearms with a multitude of laws complicating the right to keep and bear arms makes for a potent incremental strategy of discouraging gun ownership. The rights guaranteed in the Second Amendment are legally undermined and their exercise is discouraged by a bevy of burdensome regulations.
Because the Supreme Court will not let them ban guns entirely, Democrats are imposing costs and legal risks on gun ownership in order to make it too difficult for many to own a gun. The right to keep and bear arms is vitiated if only the rich, the connected, or the exceptionally determined can navigate through a thicket of expenses and regulations to exercise it.
Imposing Undue Burdens
Democrats intend this hassle. The leaders of a political party that shrieks over every restriction on invented constitutional rights are well aware of when they are imposing undue burdens on rights that are listed in the Constitution. Many of them just do not care to abide by the Constitution, which they consider an outdated relic to be twisted or discarded as they see fit. They consider the Second Amendment an embarrassing artifact, rather than an authoritative restraint on their power.
Their end goal is to severely restrict (or even prohibit) private gun ownership, and to enforce this through confiscation. And they have become bolder in saying so. Before he became infamous for supporting infanticide and wearing blackface, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, was pushing for a ban on nearly all semi-automatic firearms, with no exemption for those already legally owned. Rep. Eric Swalwell of California has even suggested that the government might nuke citizens for resisting gun confiscation.
This extremism illuminates why gun control proposals are rarely targeted at reducing violent crime, but instead seek to punish law-abiding citizens and pave the way for draconian restrictions of Second Amendment rights. The proposed Connecticut law is a classic example of this; it has no legitimate crime-fighting goals, but only burdens responsible gun owners.
It is a foundational dictum of American law that the power to tax is the power to destroy. That is the point of the Democrats’ plans to tax arms and ammunition.