Lawmaker wants to levy heavy tax on guns

Rep. Blas Jonathan Attao (Ind-Saipan) has introduced a bill to tax firearms a 100 percent ad valorem or to their market value.

Attao has introduced House Bill 19-149 to tax “all handguns and rifles” 100 percent of its ad valorem except for the following: .22 caliber rimfire cartridges and all regular .22 caliber rimfire cartridges; all .22 center-fire cartridges and .22 caliber rifles; all .223 caliber center-fire cartridges and .223 caliber center-fire rifles; and all .410 gauge shotguns shells and .410 gauge shotguns.

Attao introduced the bill in the wake of federal court ruling to strike down the ban on handguns, leaving the CNMI for the most part statutorily/regulatory defenseless to the use of firearms.

Attao’s bill cites the Gun Violence Archive to say the amount of incidents involving firearms has totaled to 11,947 as of recent and is expected to increase as the year progresses.

These incidents include the death/injury of children, home invasions, accidental shootings, and mass shootings.

“Guns now kill more people in the United States than automobiles,” Attao writes in his bill. “Many communities throughout the United States continue to pay the highest price for inaction on gun violence at the national and state level.”

Attao’s bill seeks “to offset the costs of gun violence.”

U.S. Code imposes a tax of 10 percent for pistols and revolvers, and 11 percent for shells, cartridges, and other firearms.

The city of Seattle, for one, estimates a heavy tax on guns and ammunition will generate between $300,000 and $500,000 per year in revenue, Attao’s bill says.

“The reasoning for the tax is to prevent gun violence. Other U.S. jurisdictions—such as Tennessee, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Washington, etc.—have implemented a tax on firearms, which would be used for the prevention of gun violence programs and to assist in enforcement. Therefore, establishing a tax rate on firearms will serve as a tool to assist in the security in our community.”

Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at dennis_chan@saipantribune.com.

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