Legislators Look To Curb Gun Violence In Connecticut By Taxing Ammunition | Connecticut Public Radio
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Legislators Look To Curb Gun Violence In Connecticut By Taxing Ammunition

Feb 13, 2020

The Connecticut General Assembly will consider a proposal this legislative session that would impose an excise tax on ammunition. Revenue from the tax would support gun violence prevention efforts in affected communities.

Democratic state lawmakers, as well as anti-gun advocates, gathered in Hartford Thursday to unveil the legislation. The bill would impose a 35% tax on ammo. Proponents say that would generate $7 million a year toward funding programs to reduce gun violence.

“Local organizations have worked tirelessly to prevent and address the violence, but the state has not adequately invested in their work,” said Democratic state Rep. Jillian Gilchrest, who introduced the legislation. “This policy will have a concrete effect on the day-to-day operations of groups that are on the ground preventing gun violence and helping survivors as well as the loved ones of those lost to the epidemic.”

Gilchrest said the tax will help defray the cost of gun violence to taxpayers. She cited a report by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee that found the economic cost of gun violence to the state of Connecticut in 2019 was $1.2 billion.

“That comes out to $333 for every Connecticut resident, and that doesn’t even take into account the millions of dollars that Connecticut has spent to increase security at our public schools, public buildings and our places of worship,” said Gilchrest.

One of the organizations that stands to benefit from the proposal is Project Longevity, an advocacy group that aims to reduce gun violence in Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven.

“This tax allows people who purchase ammo in the state of Connecticut to contribute to the cause to reduce gun violence,” said Brent Peterkin, statewide director of Project Longevity. “As I speak to gun owners throughout the state of Connecticut, they express deep angst about what they see going on in our cities. This is their opportunity to contribute.”

The tax would not apply to ammunition bought by law enforcement. When similar legislation was introduced last session, the National Rifle Association opposed it, saying it would “discourage law-abiding citizens from practicing regularly to be safe and proficient with their firearms.”

In response to the most recent proposal, Connecticut Citizens Defense League President Holly Sullivan wrote in a statement, “A 35% tax on ammunition would put more people at risk. Lower income individuals who typically live in more dangerous neighborhoods will likely be priced out the most effective means of gun safety, which is target practice and developing safe handling skills. These residents will be disproportionately impacted by this tax.”