Lawmakers propose new taxes on ammo to go for anti-violence efforts
Two state lawmakers have proposed a tax on ammunition sold in California, but one would use the money raised to pay for increased policing in high-crime areas and the other would provide screening for mental illness in children.
The measures are among nine pieces of legislation proposed Monday by state Assembly members to deal with gun violence. President Obama and others have identified mental health as an issue to be addressed after young, apparently deranged gunmen went on mass killing sprees in Newtown, Ct., and Aurora, Colo., last year.
Assemblyman Roger Dickenson (D-Sacramento) proposed the nickel-a-bullet tax on the sale of ammunition to go for mental health evaluations and intervention in cases where problems are discovered.
"Screening young children for signs of mental illness and addressing any issues early on is the key to a healthier and more productive adult life," Dickenson said in a statement. "A limited tax on ammunition is a small price to pay for better mental health care for children in our state."
Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) has introduced AB 187, which would impose an ammo tax to provide money to a crime prevention fund for areas with high rates of violent crime.
"In communities like Oakland and Stockton, parents are afraid to let their children play outside while gun violence ravages the streets,” Bonta said in a statement. “We must take swift action to get these communities the resources they need, and in AB 187 I propose to do so through a tax on ammunition.”
The proposals were condemned by Sam Paredes, executive director of the advocacy group Gun Owners of California, who said bullets, depending on their size, range in price from 4 cents per round to $80 for a box of 20, and millions are sold each year in the state.
"It is just unfair," Paredes said. "Bullets don’t cause crime. Criminals cause crime. And we ought to be putting criminals away for longer sentences."
-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento
Photo: A box of 9-mm bullets on display at a gun show. Credit: Julie Jacobson / Associated Press