California Gun/Ammo Tax Proposal Bears Watching… Wherever You Hunt Ducks

by Bill Miller

California lawmakers are again confirming their claim on proposing the most outlandish and contradictory legislation aimed squarely at hunters and all legal firearms and ammunition owners. The latest threatens to massively raise the price of firearms and ammunition even higher.

Assembly Bill 1227, introduced by Assembly member Marc Levin, was an entirely different piece of legislation dealing with a section of the California Labor Code when it was initially introduced. Then lawmakers amended the entire piece and inserted language to impose an additional excise tax on the sale of all ammunition, long guns and more in the state. The intent is to fund something called the “Gun Violence Prevention, Healing and Recovery Fund.”

Each year, law-abiding sportsmen and women help provide vital funding for conservation efforts in California by purchasing hunting licenses, tags and stamps, as they do in every one of the United States. We all also provide additional funding through the 11% excise tax collected on firearms and ammunition under the Pittman-Robertson Act. This Act is one of the cornerstones of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation—one to which American sportsmen and women are happy to contribute.

In fact, California lawmakers state directly in AB 1227 that they modeled this legislation after the Pittman-Robertson Act and repeatedly referenced the successful program. But instead of funding on-the-ground conservation work for wildlife resources and public access to the outdoors in the state, it saddles gun violence prevention on the backs of law-abiding sportsmen and women.

If passed, AB 1227 would place an additional tax on top of the existing taxes, in turn driving up the costs of ammo and firearms, reducing sales, and thereby reducing conservation funding from which all Californians benefit. It would also disproportionately impact the ability of the poor and disadvantaged people of color to protect themselves and their loved ones and their equitable access to hunting and shooting sports at a time when the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is doing everything they can do increase access and opportunity to the outdoors for all Californians.

In other words, this bill puts the government of California in cross-purposes with their own programs and initiatives.

But such moves are by no means “new” in California. AB 1227 comes on the heels of Assembly Bill 173 being signed into law last year. That legislation requires the state’s Department of Justice to share personal identifying information on millions of law-abiding gun and ammunition owners with other parties for non-law enforcement purposes. It also directly contradicts state law written in 1977 protecting the privacy of Californians, not to mention article I, section 1 of the California state constitution and, likely, the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Initial legal challenges of AB 173 on all these grounds proved unsuccessful, and the privacy and personal information of legal California gun and ammunition owners currently remain at risk.

Delta Waterfowl launched an action alert through our Duck Hunter Action Alert System to all our California supporters encouraging them to immediately contact their State Senators and urging them  to OPPOSE AB 1227 ahead of the Senate Public Safety Committee hearing on June 28th. Non-residents of California should contact their hunting friends and family who may live there to make sure they know about this proposal and take action as well.