When it comes to the health risks of smoking, the scientific evidence is overwhelming. Yet, in spite of the known dangers, 38 million Americans — 15.5% — still light up daily, as is their right in a free society. In response, many state legislatures in recent decades have found a way to wrest “cancer sticks” from American fingers once and for all: by bumping up the sales tax per pack to a point that makes the habit unaffordable. In New York, a pack of smokes these days will set you back a whopping $12.85 on average.
Now liberal politicians are using the same ploy to take the guns out of the hands of law-abiding Americans. Presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren is promising as president to raise the sales tax on handguns from 10% to 30%. All other firearms, which are currently taxed at 11%, would be taxed 30%, and the tax on ammunition under the plan would be increased to 50%.
Warren is not alone. Writing at Conservative Firing Line, Faye Higbee reports that San Jose, Calif., Mayor Sam Liccardo has proposed a ballot measure that would not only raise the tax on ammunition and firearms purchases but would require all gun owners to obtain liability insurance to own a firearm.
Liccardo places his proposal squarely within the area of “harm reduction,” a buzzword that pols have used to justify other “sin” taxes, such as a tax on sugary drinks. Liccardo argues (via ABC 10 San Diego):
We require motorists to carry automobile insurance, and the insurance industry appropriately encourages and rewards safe driver behavior. We tax tobacco consumption both to discourage risky behavior and to make sure non-smokers are not forced to subsidize the substantial public health costs generated by smoking-related illnesses and deaths.
These successful public health models inspire a similar ‘harm reduction’ approach for firearms.
But as Higbee notes, “This insurance requirement is simply an end-run around the 2nd amendment. … [T]hese plans simply move the chess pieces to a different square.”