A politics shift on gun taxes?


After shootings in Canoga ParkGilroyEl Paso and Dayton, an assemblyman hopes to jumpstart legislation that would impose $25 tax on new firearm sales.

Assemblyman Marc Levine, a Marin County Democrat: 

  • “Gun violence is extracting too high a price on society. A $25 gun tax to fund violence prevention is a small sacrifice for gun buyers.”

The bill would generate $13 million a year to fund violence prevention programs, a legislative analysis said. Direct costs from gun violence in California are estimated at $1.4 billion a year.

Levine’s bill stalled in the Assembly, and deadlines for such measures have come and gone. But the wave of violence could alter the politics, Levine believes:

  • “Anything can happen if political will is behind it.”
  • Legislators have hesitated to approve new taxes since Josh Newman lost his Orange County Senate seat in a recall focused on his vote to raise gasoline taxes.

By the numbers:

  • 4.2 million California adults own guns, 14% of the population
  • In an indication of firearm sales, the California Department of Justice processed between 880,000 and 1.33 million dealer records of sale per year between 2015 and 2017.

Some history: Lawmakers have been proposing gun and ammunition taxes since at least 2001, without success.