House bill

House bill for 1,000% tax on filibuster-proof assault weapons: Beyer

Representative Donald Beyer, a Democrat from Virginia, is seeking to introduce a 1,000% assault weapons tax through a reconciliation process that would require no Republican votes.

The congressman said the bill was intended to discourage Americans from buying deadly weapons that have been used in frequent mass shootings across the country. In the past three weeks alone, shootings in New York, California, Texas and Oklahoma have left dozens of adults and children dead.

“What it’s intended to do is provide another creative path to implement reasonable gun control,” Beyer told Insider in a post on Sunday, while discussing his proposal. “We believe that a 1,000% assault weapons royalty is exactly the kind of restrictive measure that creates enough fiscal impact to be eligible for reconciliation.”

Reconciliation is a tactic that can allow laws to circumvent the Senate’s 60-vote requirement known as a filibuster. Under this process, a law can be passed by a simple majority as long as every Democratic lawmaker supports it. Democrats used this strategy last year to approve a COVID-19 relief package and the House-approved Build Back Better bill.

Representative Donald Beyer, a Democrat from Virginia, is seeking to introduce a 1,000% tax on assault weapons. In this combination image, Beyer speaks as the House Ways and Means Committee on Drafting Taxes holds a markup hearing to draft the Democrats’ Build Back Better Act. A customer looks at handguns in a holster as AR-15 style rifles hang on a wall.
AP/Getty

An expert told Insider that Beyer’s measure could hit the threshold of circumventing the filibuster because “taxes get more deference in budget reconciliation than other policies from a parliamentary perspective.”

However, the bill would still face significant hurdles, even among Democrats. Several lawmakers have already proposed tax hikes on guns and ammunition in an effort to drive down sales, but without success. Beyer’s proposal also marks a much larger tax increase than Democrats have targeted in the past.

The bill would focus only on assault weapons, such as AR-15s, but would not include a bullet tax increase. However, any high-capacity magazines that can carry more than 10 rounds of ammo would be aggressively targeted, according to Insider.

AR-15 type weapons can cost between $500 and $1,000, which means that a 1,000% tax increase could add $5,000 to $10,000 to their final selling price. The Democratic lawmaker, however, said he was willing to negotiate that figure, but the goal was to reduce gun purchases and limit the number of assault weapons in circulation.

“There’s nothing magical about that thousand percent number. It’s serious enough to inhibit and restrict sales. But also successful enough not to be considered an outright ban,” Beyer told Insider.

His proposal comes as Democrats and Republicans continue to tussle over gun legislation following recent attacks on schools, grocery stores, churches and medical centers.

Earlier this week, President Joe Biden called on Congress to either ban the sale of assault weapons or raise the age to buy them from 18 to 21. He also called for a ban on high-capacity magazines, as well as increased background check requirements. , and a repeal of immunity that shields gunmakers from liability if their guns are used in deadly attacks.

“How much more carnage are we willing to accept? How many more innocent American lives must be taken before we say enough? Enough,” the president said in an impassioned address to the nation. “It’s time to act. For the children we’ve lost. For the children we can save. For the nation we love. Let’s hear the call and the cry. Meet the moment. Let’s finally do something.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the potential price increase due to the proposed tax.