Gun Rights Groups Sue California Over Ridiculous Gun Tax

AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File

Gun rights advocacy groups are suing the state of California over a new law that adds an extra tax on firearm and ammunition sales.

The law, passed in 2023, imposes an 11 percent tax on gun-related sales in the state. The proceeds from the tax are ostensibly aimed at funding programs to decrease gun violence.

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Enacted in 2023, California Assembly Bill 28 imposed the additional tax on gross receipts from all retail sales of guns, gun parts and ammunition. The money from this tax was then funneled into a number of gun safety initiatives, including school safety programs, firearm relinquishment grant programs, counseling for victims of mass shootings and grant programs for victims of gun violence.

The Firearms Policy Coalition, the National Rifle Association, the California Rifle & Pistol Association, and the Second Amendment Foundation are the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, arguing that it violates the Constitution.

The complaint points out that the Supreme Court has “repeatedly held that constitutional rights cannot be singled out for special taxation.”

The plaintiffs also contend that if the tax is allowed to stand, “there is nothing stopping California from imposing a 50% or even 100% tax on a constitutional right it disfavors – whether it be the right to keep and bear arms, the right to free exercise of religion, or any other right.”

Randy Kozuch, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, characterized the excise tax as “a blatant and egregious attack on the rights of Californians and a calculated maneuver to dismantle the Second Amendment.”

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On the other side of the debate, proponents of the tax contend that it will reduce gun violence by funding government programs intended for that purpose. “This is a modest investment in gun violence prevention programs that are proven to work,” said Daniel Villaseñor, a spokesman for the governor’s office. “There’s a reason California is ranked the No. 1 state for gun safety — and we won’t back down from defending common sense policies like this that help save lives.”

Nevertheless, the plaintiffs argue that the tax will make it cost-prohibitive to purchase firearms.

The lawsuit was also brought on behalf of two licensed gun owners: Danielle Jaymes, a resident of San Diego County, and Joshua Gerken, a resident of Orange County.

“The individuals are probably members of all the associations that are also plaintiffs,” said C.D. Michel, attorney for the plaintiffs.

The pair purchased mostly ammunition for training and self-defense purposes hours after the law went into effect on July 1, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit states that Jaymes also planned to purchase a handgun — a Sig Sauer P365 XMacro, a subcompact semiautomatic pistol — but put it off due to the increased cost from the tax. She is now saving money to purchase it.

“Ms. Jaymes would purchase this handgun within the coming weeks if it did not cost 11% more,” the complaint reads.

Gerken, a member of the NRA and an occasional firearms instructor at local gun ranges, said he purchases ammunition once a month but may have to cut back due to the new tax, according to the complaint.

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The law went into effect on Monday. It was part of a slew of anti-gun bills that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law.

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