September 20, 2013

The Gun and Ammunition Tax

This one came to me in the shower this morning. Listening to NPR's coverage of the most recent mass shooting, along with discussiosn about the disbursement of funds to victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Clearly, the gun lobby is not about to change - we're stuck with guns, we're stuck with ammunition.

So, let's treat guns and ammo like we do other problematic social issues (alcohol, cigarettes).  Specifically, I propose we develop a financial compensation package for victims of gun violence. A fixed benefit to the victims of, or survivors of fatal shootings, to be determined by some arbitrator. So, $1M for a fatality (for instance), with various lower values for different levels of incapacitation. We take the "external" cost of gun ownership, and internalize it.

The fund for these benefits will be generated by a tax on firearms and ammunition, based on historical data and trends in violence, and assessed on an annual basis. And there would be exceptions - no benefit if one is wounded in the commission of a crime, no benefit for stupid or risky behavior (including suicide, accidental shootings, or family members accessing an unsecured firearm) - the benefit goes to innocent victims only.

You want a lower gun tax? Then work to reduce violence, through education, through background checks, through internal policing in the gun world, through better mental health services.

And no, we are not going to come take your guns. But we will make sure the social cost of easy access to firearms accrues to the folks who demand and enjoy the easy access.

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