What at first blush looks to be a frivolous and toothless stunt to crush the Second Amendment beneath an excise tax actually could pass the U.S. House of Representatives, claims the headline, via Business Insider, and Senator Liz Warren (D-MA) indicates that she can get behind it.
Business Insider’s Joseph Zeballos-Roeg explains that the proposal, fashioned by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), would use the constitutionally-granted power to inflict astronomical excise taxes on internally traded U.S. goods in order to destroy the “protected” right to keep and bear arms.
New AR-15-style guns cost anywhere from $500 to over $2,000 depending on location, NBC News reported. That means a 1,000% tax on the weapons would add $5,000 to $20,000 to their final sales prices — and would probably keep them out of reach from many younger Americans.
The details of the bill are sketchy, but the tactic is clear.
It’s a tactic that the Dems and Joe Biden (along with a bunch of RINO Republicans) already utilized in April, when they passed their barmy and ludicrous “H.R. 7108 Suspending Normal Trade Relations with Russia and Belarus Act” – because, of course, you cannot be free to decide what to buy. You have to buy weapons that the U.S, will send to Ukraine.
That ingenious bill raised the tariff from 11 to 30 percent on Russian and Bellarus-made ammo.
Like the tariff “power,” this new tax proposal also is listed as a Congressional power in the U.S. Constitution. It’s the excise tax.
But there’s a problem. As the Washington administration realized when “Treasury Secretary” Alexander Hamilton led the government into the folly of imposing a disproportionate excise tax on whiskey – something that slammed rural farmers and whiskey-makers much harder than mechanized and internationally-trading northeastern whiskey interests – the Constitution offered no answer as to how the feds could collect any of its excise taxes should people not willingly cough up the cash.
When, in 1793-1794 whiskey-makers in western Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and other agricultural zones refused to pay, Hamilton ordered the Pennsylvania governor to arrest the tax-dodgers in his state, and the Treasury Secretary actually claimed that they were engaging in an “insurrection.” When the governor did not act, Hamilton convinced a judge who was a close friend to claim that the whiskey-makers were rebelling, and Hamilton used that as a pretext to, along with Washington, lead a force larger than the Army of the Potomac across Pennsylvania to attack the tax targets.
The problem is that, not only does the federal Constitution offer no way to collect the excise taxes the Congress imposes, the Constitution requires a state Governor or legislature to ask for federal assistance if they believe the state is besieged by insurgents or rebels.
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Hamilton didn’t care.
In the end, public hatred of what Washington did led him to issue pardons, and, as economist Murray Rothbard observed:
Rather than the whiskey tax rebellion being localized and swiftly put down, the true story turns out to be very different. The entire American back-country was gripped by a non-violent, civil disobedient refusal to pay the hated tax on whiskey. No local juries could be found to convict tax delinquents. The Whiskey Rebellion was actually widespread and successful, for it eventually forced the federal government to repeal the excise tax.
Except during the War of 1812, the federal government never again dared to impose an internal excise tax, until the North transformed the American Constitution by centralizing the nation during the War Between the States. One of the evil fruits of this war was the permanent federal "sin" tax on liquor and tobacco, to say nothing of the federal income tax, an abomination and a tyranny even more oppressive than an excise.
But this is what the Dems in the House seem to want to apply to those trading in AR-15s. And Warren seems eager to get behind it, as well.
’It's important to use every tool available and that includes taxes in order to put an end to the availability of weapons that are used for murdering people,’ Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts told Insider.
This, after she voted to send millions of dollars worth of weapons to Ukraine.
Of course, this is “banning” by another name, and it won’t work.
As the tax burden on any popular item rises, the incentive to move sales into the black market also rises. Dealers and consumers weigh the relative costs and benefits, risks and advantages, and they make their choices. That’s why, when I worked at a television series in Vancouver, circa 1996 – a time when Canada had raised the tax on cigarettes so high, it inspired an underground for sales -- I used to hear radio reports about the Royal Canadian Mounted Police capturing truckloads of “smuggled cigarettes” bound for black-markets.
The problems of taxation are manifest, but the key is that it is immoral to force others to pay you when they engage in peaceful trade.
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