HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Emotions ran high Thursday at the Capitol over a proposed excise tax by Rep. Jillian Gilchrest that would affect ammunition purchases both in stores and online.
An emotional scolding from State Rep. Jillian Gilchrest (D- West Harford) when asked whether her proposal to tax gun ammunition by 35% is a punishment on lawful gun owners.
“Shame on you, those being punished are the victims of gun violence from Hartford to Newtown,” she said.
Gilchrest said there has never been a comprehensive plan to fund gun violence prevention programs, and her proposal would do just that.
An estimated $50 box of bullets with a 35% excise tax would result in about $17.50 being paid to the state.
In total, Gilchrest expects the proposed tax to raise $7 million for programs to diffuse violence.
“The impact they will be able to have on the cities of Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport is calculable. They will be able to save lives,” said Kate Martin, Mom’s Demand Action.
Hartford State Representative Doug McCrory said it’s important to get to younger generations at the first sign of trouble.
“We don’t want to be here on the tail end of a situation that might occur,” State Representative Dough McCrory (Hartford).
Supporters of the proposal say beyond the emotional cost, gun violence has a financial cost.
Gilchrest said, according to the Congressional report, gun violence costs $1.2 billion annually which works out to $331 for every Connecticut resident.
There is no language in this proposed bill that would apply that excise tax to law enforcement, whether it’s the state police, your local police, or the department of corrections. All purchase ammunition for their staff.
Connecticut Citizens Defense League leaders said, once again, the lawmakers are making a separate class of citizens. They are making different rules for themselves versus different rules for the civilians.
Ray Bevis represents CCDL and gun owners who say if an ammo tax is applied it should be applied to all, calling this a civil liberties tax.
“Gun owners in this state already have to pay a permit fee to buy ammunition, they have to be fingerprinted and background checked,” Bevis said.
Bevis said, while the gun safety action groups have a laudable mission, the state needs to stop pulling their dedicated funding. Then, maybe, there won’t be a need to target gun owners.
This bill proposal is being looked at by the finance revenue and boding committee. It is very early in the process and unclear whether the concept will get to a public hearing.