Representative Donald Beyer, a Democrat from Virginia, is now proposing a federal 1,000% excise tax on assault weapons, and he wants to get this passed through reconciliation. This process would not require any Republican votes.
Beyer is introducing this legislation that will tax all AR-15-style weapons at this enormous rate as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, according to Business Insider. Beyer is also the chairman of the Joint Economic Committee. He told Business Insider that his plan is “sensible gun control.”
The congressman said that his bill is focused on discouraging Americans from buying these deadly weapons that have been used in mass shootings throughout the nation. In the past three weeks alone, there have been shootings in New York, California, Texas, and Oklahoma that have left dozens of adults and children dead.
“What it’s intended to do is provide another creative pathway to actually make some sensible gun control happen. We think that a 1,000% fee on assault weapons is just the kind of restrictive measure that creates enough fiscal impact to qualify for reconciliation,” Rep. Beyer said.
Reconciliation is a plan that allows laws to bypass the Senate 60 vote requirement known as the filibuster. This process enables the law to pass with a simple majority as long as every Democrat is supporting it. Democrats used this strategy last year to approve a COVID-19 relief package.
One expert on legislation like this said that Beyer’s measure might meet the threshold of bypassing the filibuster because “taxes get more deference in budget reconciliation than other policies from a parliamentarian point of view.”
If there is a 1,000% tax on AR-15 style guns, that could increase the sale price of these weapons by as much as $5,000 to $20,000. The guns usually run from approximately $500 to over $2,000.
According to some reports of this new legislation, the full details have not been ironed out yet. But we know that under this new legislation proposed by Beyer, bullets would not be included in the 1,000% tax, but high-capacity magazines that can carry more than 10 rounds of ammunition would be included in the massive tax.
When Beyer spoke with Business Insider, he said that he was open to discussing the details of the bill. “There’s nothing magical about that thousand percent number. It’s severe enough to actually inhibit and restrict sales. But also successful enough that it’s not seen as an absolute ban,” he said.
This proposal comes on the heels of the tragic shooting in the Uvalde, Texas elementary school where 19 children and two teachers were killed by a mass shooter on May 24.
Beyer’s bill could face some significant hurdles in the Democratic Party. Several lawmakers have previously opposed tax increases in guns and ammunition aimed at decreasing sales of guns. Beyer’s recommendation is significantly higher than any other increase in the past.
This bill comes amid great debate on the gun control issue across the party aisle. President Joe Biden just asked Congress to either ban the sale of assault weapons or raise the age to purchase them from 18 to 21. He also called for a ban on high-capacity magazines and more background checks.
“How much more carnage are we willing to accept? How many more innocent American lives must be taken before we say enough? Enough,” the president asked.
Biden said that it is time to act because of the children we have lost, and for the ones that we can save. He finished his speech by saying, “Let’s hear the call and the cry. Let’s meet the moment. Let us finally do something.”
Will that kind of emotion sway Congress into imposing such a radical tax?