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Since 1919, the Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax, named Pittman-Robertson after the two guys who shepherded it into law nearly a century ago, legislators who pushed for it, has levied a tax on the sale of firearms and ammunition at the manufacturing and importing level. Right now that tax is 11 percent tax on shotguns, rifles, archery equipment and ammunition. There is also a 10 percent tax on handguns. The money, which goes directly to the Department of the Interior, is distributed to the states on a matching fund basis and used only for wildlife research and wildlife habitat conservation.

Several states as well as counties and municipalities are now considering their own gun and ammo taxes. Florida, New Jersey and California are among them and the 12/14 Newtown, Connecticut, massacre has probably given them more impetus than they now have. Penelope Lemov writes:

Last October, Cook County, Ill., Board President Toni Preckwinkle asked the county council to tax ammunition—a nickel a bullet. The idea wasn't exactly laughed out of legislative corridors—it was projected to raise $400,000 a year after all—but Preckwinkle ultimately withdrew her bullet tax. She also pushed for a $25-per-gun tax on firearms sales. In February, that tax became law, with projections that it would raise $600,000 this year alone.
Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County, Illinois, board president as of 2013.
Toni Preckwinkle
By passing the gun tax, Cook County, the third most populous county in the country (which also includes much of Chicago), became the first large U.S. jurisdiction to approve such a measure, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Preckwinkle's motivation for both the gun and the ammunition taxes was to provide more money to help the county address the costly fallout from such crime. It costs the county's health system $52,000 per patient to care for victims of gun violence—and last year there were 670 victims needing county care.

In that sense, Preckwinkle is linking a gun or ammunition tax to excise taxes, which usually redress specific societal costs associated with the product being assessed. In the eyes of three Harvard University professors, such a form of taxation has a long—and successful—public health history. "We tax items with negative externalities," says Dr. David Hemenway, professor of Health Policy at the Harvard School of Public Health. Hemenway, along with two Harvard physicians, recently authored a paper in the Journal of American Medical Association called "Curbing Gun Violence: Lessons From Public Health Successes." […]

In calling for a tax, Hemenway and his fellow authors are looking beyond state and local efforts. They would like to see a "new, substantial national tax on all firearms and ammunition," one that would provide stable funding for a "national endowment to benefit those harmed by gun violence and their families; a sustained public awareness campaign to increase gun safety, reduce gun violence, and assist in recognition of at-risk individuals; and stronger enforcement of existing gun laws. Such efforts would not necessarily be intended to reduce ownership, a key regulatory and political distinction."


Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2005Gannon knew about "shock and awe" hours before:

A news producer for a major network just told me that [Jeff] Gannon told the producer the US was going to attack Iraq four hours before President Bush announced it to the nation.

According to the producer, Gannon specifically told them that in four hours the president was going to be making a speech to the nation announcing that the US was bombing Iraq. The producer told me they were surprised that Gannon, working with such a small news outfit, could have access to such information, but "what did you know, he was right," the producer said today. The producer went on to say that Gannon often had correct scoops on major stories, including information about Mary Mapes and the Dan Rather BUSH/AWOL scandal that this news outlet got from Gannon before any had the information publicly.[…]

So the question becomes, just how did this character get White House press credentials, despite supposed post-Sept. 11 security requirements? Bruce Bartlett, a conservative columnist who worked in the Reagan and first Bush administrations, says that "if Gannon was using an alias, the White House staff had to be involved in maintaining his cover." In other words, the White House wanted him at those briefings and wanted him to ask his softball questions, most likely to divert attention when legitimate reporters were getting too pushy.


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