By Rob Morse | SlowFacts
The power to regulate an activity is the power to infringe upon it. The power to tax is the power to destroy that activity. Unfortunately, state and federal judges seldom see an infringement when the government regulates and taxes gun owners.
Today, the state and federal government significantly restrict the guns you may purchase. Those restrictions grow every day. These prohibitions limit the model, year of manufacture, and the magazine capacity of the guns you can buy. Identical object may be legal or illegal depending on when and where you purchased them.. and there is no way for law enforcement to discriminate one from the other. Those rules apply to you, but not to some government employees. We have clear and convincing evidence that criminals don’t obey these laws. In addition, we know these gun prohibitions have no effect on the rate of crime or its severity. Judges ignore the obvious evidence and don’t see these restrictions as an infringement on your rights.
Some state governments require a government permission slip before you may touch a firearm. You have to prove you’re not a criminal, and pay for the privilege. The federal government mandates that you undergo a background check when you buy a firearm from a gunshop. A police officer performs a similar background check in a few seconds when he runs your driver’s license during a traffic stop. In contrast, some states take a year to perform a similar check. Delays matter. Vulnerable people who were clearly in jeopardy were murdered while waiting for a government permission slip to buy a gun for personal protection. Judges don’t see disarming a murder victim as an infringement. Criminals don’t buy their guns from legal dealers so these laws do nothing to disarm criminals.
Some states tax the guns you buy. They also impose a tax of time as they impose mandatory waiting periods before you can pick up the gun you bought. They also impose a tax of time as they limit the number of guns you may buy in a month. Some police departments impose their own limitation on how many guns you can buy in a year. In addition, there are taxes imposed when the states require mandatory training or safety class to buy a gun. Judges have not ruled these taxes to be an infringement on our right to own a firearm.
Some states want to go farther. They want to impose a yearly property tax on owning a firearm. They already tax ammunition and impose prohibitions on the type of ammunition you can own. Meanwhile, your local police may carry ammunition that is forbidden to you. We would be outraged at similar restrictions on voting or on free speech.
States impose requirements on how a gun may be stored. They prohibit your friend touching your gun. They effectively impose additional taxes the people who sell guns by imposing training, background check, and security requirements that exceed the requirements for some government insured banks. Does that sound like an infringement to you?
Some states tax you if you want to carry a firearm concealed on your own property or in public. They mandate hours of instruction for both the concealed carry students and for the concealed carry instructors. The additional bureaucratic delays of processing the application are another tax on your time. We know what a judge would say if it took hundreds of dollars and several months to obtain a voters identification card. It appears that judges can’t even spell infringement when examining the right of the citizens to bear arms.
Judges are agents of the government. They blindly assume the vague assertion that these restrictions are for “public safety.” The people who have a CC permit are the most law abiding and non-violent class of people on the planet.. period. Politicians might want to punish gun owners politically, but that punishment can never be justified as a public safety measure.
Put not your faith in judges.