In America, economic solutions often triumph over moral crusades.
So, let’s change the conversation and make this about money.
Not about guns, but about bullets.
Specifically, a Benjamin per bullet.
A Benjamin per EACHY and EVERY bullet.
Let’s put a federal tax of $100 on every instance when any entity in America makes or imports anything that can be used as a round of ammunition in any multi-round weapon.
Let’s tax each of those bullets again at $100 whenever sold, resold, or gifted.
Then let’s make ownership of bullets, by individuals or businesses, subject to an annual property tax at $100 apiece – why just tax land?
The National Shooting Sports Federation estimates total ammunition sold in the U.S. at close to NINE BILLION rounds annually. Does anyone want to do the math on the potential revenue from one bullet made at $100, wholesaled at $100, retailed at $100, and owned at the end of that year for tax purposes at $100?
After all, we all know that guns don’t kill people – bullets do. Those who want a handgun for personal defense still can pay for a few bullets. If folks fomenting armed rebellion want more bullets, they can pay for them, just like disaster preppers pay for their basements of supplies.
To address the most obvious concern, let’s exempt bullets manufactured for and sold directly to the military and other government-regulated law enforcement organizations from the Bullet Tax – but with harsh penalties for anything that falls off the back of any trucks. Those bullets easily could be differentiated with appearance variations on the base of the bullet, with counterfeiters punished harshly, and any private possession of those rounds treated the same.
If violence addicts still desperately need to spray hundreds of bullets at defenseless dirt each weekend, they can get in shape and join our well-regulated militias – we call those the National Guard.
If red states even want to authorize subsidiary units of the Guard, maybe even based at gun clubs, so be it.
We still can turn a drain on society into a positive here, especially if we target the funds appropriately in a self-reinforcing loop with one simple addition:
Do NOT just assess this tax randomly for some nebulous government expense.
Just as many state lotteries originally funded schools – before state lawmakers got greedy – explicitly put this revenue toward a good cause.
Direct every surplus penny from the Bullet Tax toward violence prevention and mental health programs, with funding in each jurisdiction keyed to the Bullet Tax funds collected there. Local funds therefore produce local solutions.
Penalize any failure to pay the Bullet Tax, by individuals or businesses, as a felony with appropriate mandatory minimums, and fund enforcement with the proceeds from the Bullet Tax.
By proposing this Bullet Tax to fund local violence prevention and education programs, Democrats 1) don’t offend anyone actually open to persuasion, 2) motivate a demoralized base twice over, and 3) demonstrate a commitment to supporting local law enforcement by reducing future threats.
No infringement on the Second Amendment or a SCOTUS Heller holding that says NOTHING about taxing ammunition.
Just normal usage of government’s power of the purse to incentivize something objectively constructive and disincentivize something objectively destructive.
By putting the Bullet Tax on the table now, after a tragedy where local law enforcement explicitly failed in every conceivable way to protect or serve, Democrats look forward, proposing a proactive solution to try to prevent - or at least minimize - the next tragedy.
Let enablers worship their “good guy with a gun” mythology. Can’t everyone agree that we still should help arm those good guys with a lot more ammo than the bad guys, so maybe they won’t be too scared of getting shot to run into a school to save our innocent children?
No one’s trying to take anyone’s handguns here.
No one’s trying to take anyone’s assault rifles, or even limit their sales, no matter how much many of us wish we could.
No one’s even trying to take their bullets – just make their costs better represent the potential devastation they can cause.
Chicago already tried a version of this, but Cook County Democrats foolishly tried to tax guns, too, and the Illinois Supreme Court stuck it down last year in a 6-0 decision The ruling also noted that the legislation didn’t use the taxes for related violence prevention purposes. This proposal solves both those problems. Plus, Illinois politicians pandered to a ridiculous level, taxing guns at only $25 and then each cartridge at mere pennies.
Aren’t our children’s lives worth SO much more than that?
Pennies a cartridge?
How utterly absurd in the lack of imagination and bravery.
One hundred dollars a bullet. Every bullet made. Every bullet sold. Every year any bullet remains unfired.
With significantly more guns than people in this country, none of those horses are going back into any barns.
However, if no one has anything to fire from those arms that doesn’t cost a hundred bucks a literal pop, maybe parents aren’t so worried about sending kids to school.
Hobbyists still can shoot– it’ll just cost them a heck of a lot more.
Savvy gun companies even should welcome this, since they can rebrand shooting as a luxury hobby. Why focus on Appalachian anarchists already armed with loaded arsenals? Instead, marvel at those $100K LVMH jeweled handguns with $1000 diamond-tipped bullets proudly brandished by all four of the Republicans stalking the Met Gala red carpet!
The federal Bullet Tax wouldn’t even infringe on shotgun shells, musket balls, arrows, or other more traditional ammo for cosplay warriors – none of which enable weapons of mass death.
For any dedicated adult determined to revenge themselves on the world, this wouldn’t even stop them. The wealthy Las Vegas shooter still could have spent $100K to shoot his 1,000 bullets.
Maybe the Alito Court, high on their radical originalism, even will declare bullets, like campaign contributions, to be protected speech.
So be it.
We still can tax that speech until it STOPS KILLING THE REST OF US.
You might say the Benjamin Bullet Tax isn’t a real solution. It doesn’t get guns off our streets, out of our neighborhoods, or away from our kids.
You might be right.
However, this AT LEAST should prevent any other poor and unbalanced 18yo from filling an AR-15 ten times over before unloading his literal death metal against the most cherished yet vulnerable American citizens.
Tax bullets at $100 apiece.
Tax them now.
Tax them tomorrow.
Tax them forever.
Save our kids.