A Democratic congressman is drafting legislation that would impose a 1,000% tax on “assault rifles” in response to a terrifying spate of mass shootings.
Rep. Don Beyer’s bill would create an excise tax on the sale of military-style semi-automatic rifles, including the popular AR-15-style rifles, and ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 bullets. The Virginia Democrat is pushing for the bill to pass in the Senate without GOP support using a special procedure known as budget reconciliation.
“Congress must act to prevent mass shootings,” Mr. Beyer said on social media. “I’m writing a bill to restrict the flow of weapons of war into American communities — including AR-15s and high capacity magazines — that could bypass the filibuster and pass with just 50 votes in the Senate.”
The bill is designed to inflate the price of semi-automatic rifles to a point where it becomes too expensive for average Americans to purchase one.
A new AR-15-style rife can cost consumers anywhere between $400 to $2,000, depending on modifications. Mr. Beyer’s 1,000% tax could drive up the price from anywhere between $4,000 to $20,000.
The bill faces long odds of becoming law. The reconciliation process allows some spending and tax measures to avert the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster threshold and pass by a simple majority of 51-votes.
Since the Senate is split 50-50 between the parties, the move would require the unilateral support of every Democrat in the upper chamber with Vice President Kamala Harris providing the tie-breaking vote.
At the moment, however, several Democrats from red states, including Sens. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana, have refused to back a direct ban on such weapons.
“It’s one that you have to consider,” Mr. Manchin told West Virginia MetroNews over the weekend. “I’m open to looking at anything that would protect our children, and these seem to be the weapons of choice for these mass shootings.”
Congress is scrambling to address gun violence after a series of high-profile mass shootings.
Last week, according to authorities, a 45-year-old man upset with his surgeon returned to a Tulsa, Oklahoma, hospital and shot dead the doctor and three other people. That shooting took place less than a week after an 18-year-old man opened fire in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and two teachers.
Less than two weeks earlier, an 18-year-old man motivated by racist hatred allegedly opened fire in a supermarket in a predominately Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, killing 10 people and wounding three others.