Widgets Magazine


Prohibitively Expensive

There’s been a lot of talk about gun control lately, so allow me to add two interesting tactics that I haven’t heard in the mainstream discourse. I’m not entirely sure about their feasibility, but they’re interesting.

The first is taxation. The ultimate goal is to make it prohibitively expensive to have a small arsenal of firearms, which these mass shooters usually have access to. It looks something like this: Your first registered handgun isn’t taxed, but any gun you buy after that becomes increasingly more expensive. Likewise, things like assault rifles or high capacity magazines would be heavily taxed. With the addition of taxing ammunition, it becomes increasingly difficult to own and operate a firearm, reducing the proliferation of firearms. Now there are a lot of shootings. It involves regulation of gun shows and private sales, both of which are daunting tasks. Likewise, some would argue that this places an unfair burden on the poor, who would have less access to firearms. Then again, that argument can be made for sales, value added or fuel taxes. The Heller case may have made it difficult for governments to ban guns, but they should still be able to tax the hell out of firearms.
The second is liability insurance. If I understand the concept correctly, a person will have to insure his or her gun for liability. It’s the same principle that makes me buy insurance for my car because there’s compelling public interest. There would be actuaries to assign different premiums depending on a person’s age, race, experience, gun type, etc. Theoretically, it would make it too expensive for an at-risk person to legally obtain guns. There are other benefits: for example, a person could take a firearms safety course to drive down their premium.
There are obviously a few common flaws, such as the need to regulate gun shows and private sales. Likewise, none of them immediately address the problem of illegal guns. Maybe we could use the extra money on enforcement? Or enact stricter penalties for carrying an illegal weapon? There are no easy answers, but thinking outside of the box on policy issues never hurts.

About Chris Herries

Chris Herries is a sophomore majoring in Latin. His interests include rugby, crossfit, weiqi, and public service. Please shoot him an email if you have an issues with his articles.
  • Out of the Box

    Love this idea! Thinking out of the box and into the pockets. Love it

  • Anon

    Several problems, some you already mentioned, some you didn’t. First, discriminatory towards poor. Yes, so are other taxes, but that’s not a reason to add more discrimination, especially when it concerns a right specifically listed in the Bill of Rights. Second, problems with implementation. Not only will it require more regulation of gun shows, which you mention, but progressively taxing each additional firearm has its own problems and will probably hit a TON of resistance for the simple fact that it would require registration. Right now, there isn’t a comprehensive list of gun owners and what types they own. Many people are vehemently opposed to such a list (see the Marine’s letter that has been going around) because they believe the government has no right to know what they legally own within their own home. Not to mention it makes confiscation easier if it were ever to come to that (debatable proposition, but not completely crazy). So progressively taxing additional guns would not only require regulation of private sales (which I don’t find extremely problematic if it’s limited to the standard background check), but would also require a registration ‘list’ kept by the government to determine how many guns you already have and therefore the proper tax to apply. Finally, the typical argument – this will keep guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens who will pay the tax, but not criminals. You think the gang-banger that bought the street gun will be paying the tax or will be deterred from obtaining a gun for fear of the penalty if he is caught not paying the tax)? No – it just places a higher burden on law-abiding citizens, particularly the poor, and does nothing about keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. Same argument applies to liability insurance – the poor will probably have higher rates for whatever reason (live in less safe neighborhoods, less time/money to take safety classes, etc.), gang-bangers will have even higher rates, giving them even less reason to obtain the insurance.
    I don’t have a problem with out of the box thinking, but I do have a problem with new laws that will make life harder for law-abiding citizens, discriminate against the poor, have no chance of success, and don’t do anything to actually solve the problem.

  • pol_incorrect

    The problem with your idea is that two SCOTUS cases, Heller (2008) and Chicago (2010), say that the right to bear arms is an individual right that cannot be infringed by the federal government or the states except in exceptional circumstances and with due process. As I said elsewhere, you guys should think of the second amendment as the first, with any “no guns” list being equivalent to a censorship list and any attempts at making the possession of guns difficult to otherwise qualified applicants as taxation on free speech (lets tax more those who write more comments on the Daily website so that they comment less). Nonsense. That’s how you idea sounds.

  • American

    That’s unjust and a disgusting idea.

  • guest

    Besides the constitutional right problems, it only takes one weapon to go on one of these rampages. The VaTech shooter used only two handguns, if I recall.

  • A

    This is a stupid idea. If someone wants to go on a killing spree, theyre going to pay the extra tax anyways to buy the necessary weapons…all this does is take guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens who want to protect themselves from home invaders, rapists, and general protection, but can’t afford the extra taxation.