A group of Democrats, led by Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), are proposing a 1,000 percent tax on AR-15-style weapons in a gun-control bill intended to significantly restrict access to the popular firearm.
The bill, called the “Assault Weapons Excise Act,” was introduced Tuesday by Breyer and 36 House Democrats and would apply to “assault weapons” and magazines that are capable of carrying 10 rounds or more. If passed, the law would add potentially thousands of dollars to the final sales price of those firearms.
The measure would place exemptions on recreational weapons used for hunting as well as ammunition. The law would not retroactively apply to tens of millions of AR-15s that are estimated to be circulating around the United States.
In an attempt to define what would be taxed, the bill says it would apply to “semiautomatic assault weapon[s],” which are semiautomatic rifles that have the capacity to use a magazine that isn’t a fixed magazine, a pistol grip, a forward grip, and a folding, telescoping, or detachable stock. Other items that fall under that definition include a semiautomatic rifle with a barrel shroud, a threaded barrel, and a “functional grenade launcher.”
The excise tax would also apply to “a semiautomatic rifle that has a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds, except for an attached tubular device designed to accept, and capable of operating only with, .22 caliber rimfire ammunition,” as well as certain semiautomatic pistols, all belt-fed semiautomatic rifles, shotguns with revolving cylinders, and more.
“Congress must take action to stem the flood of weapons of war into American communities, which have taken a terrible toll in Uvalde, Buffalo, Tulsa, and too many other places,” Beyer said in reference to widely reported mass shootings in recent weeks.
About half of all rifles manufactured in the United States or imported in 2018 were AR-15-style weapons, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation trade group. The group said there are about 20 million of those firearms in circulation as of 2020.
On Sunday, 10 Republican and 10 Democrat senators introduced a gun-control framework that would provide funding to states to enforce red flag laws, mental health resources, and more
One of the sponsors, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), suggested Wednesday that negotiations hit a roadblock, including in hashing out details on the red flag law provision.
“The other issue has to do with the way that nontraditional relationships are handled in terms of domestic violence and misdemeanors. We’ve got to come up with a good definition of what that actually means,” Cornyn told reporters in Washington.