A prominent House Democrat has proposed a 1,000% tax on AR-15s and similar weapons as part of his party’s latest effort to expand gun control.
Representative Don Beyer of Virginia, who is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, believes that raising the price of assault weapons ten-fold might deter mass shootings. The tax may increase the cost of rifles anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000.
“It’s supposed to be a creative way for us to actually make some reasonable gun control happen,” Beyer added. “We feel that a 1000 percent tax on assault weapons is exactly the kind of restrictive law that would be restrictive enough for reconciliation.”
The final version of Beyer’s bill is not yet finished, and it is unclear when the tax would go into effect and what the additional money would be used for, although one option is a program to compensate family members of victims killed in shootings. According to Beyer, government agencies including law enforcement and the military will be exempt from the levy. The lawmaker added that he believes his measure has a good chance of passing both houses and avoiding a filibuster in the U.S. Senate, where VP Kamala Harris might have a deciding vote.
The bill’s goal is to secure passage by using a reconciliation process that allows it to skip the 60-vote threshold for breaking filibusters. Because it’s a tax measure, experts believe it may qualify for reconciliation.
The AR-15 rifle is a civilian semi-automatic version of the M16 weapon, which was originally designed as a military assault rifle. About 20 percent of all new gun purchases meet the description, according to estimates. Biden has suggested that assault weapons be banned.
The term “assault weapons” has been defined by a bill proposed by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) as “military-style” rifles, including ones with “a magazine that is not a fixed ammo magazine and has one or more military features such as a forward or pistol grip, a barrel shroud, a folding or telescoping stock, or a threaded barrel.”