Virginia Democrat introduces bill to impose 1,000 percent tax on assault-style weapons

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) addresses supporters at the first stop of the ‘DNC Build Back Better Bus Tour’ at Port City Brewing in Alexandria, Va., on Thursday, August 12, 2021.
Greg Nash

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) introduced legislation on Tuesday that would impose a 1,000 percent excise tax on assault-style weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines in the wake of several high-profile mass shootings in the last month.

Under the bill, a 1,000 percent tax would be applied to the sale of semi-automatic assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition feeding devices, defined in the legislative text as “a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device, including any such device joined or coupled with another in any manner, that has an overall capacity of, or that can be readily restored, changed, or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition.”

The legislation would not apply to firearms bought by a local, state or federal government, meaning that law enforcement agencies or the military would not be affected.

A statement from the Virginia Democrat’s office on Tuesday indicated that the legislation is meant to be passed through budget reconciliation, which would bypass the need to get 10 Senate Republicans to sign on to the measure.

While the legislation is not an outright ban of those firearms, it would disincentivize people from purchasing them. 

“I have voted in the past for commonsense gun safety reforms only to see them run aground on Senate Republicans’ filibuster; my bill presents a pathway to bypass that obstruction and enact lifesaving measures,” Beyer said in a statement. 

“If the Senate is able to agree on the legislative package currently under discussion, which would be a very positive development, my bill would give the Senate an option for further action to address the epidemic of gun violence,” he continued. 

Beyer’s legislation, which his office told The Hill earlier this month was in the works, comes after a spate of mass shootings in Buffalo, N.Y.; Uvalde, Texas; and Tulsa, Okla.

Close to two dozen senators announced on Sunday they had “a commonsense proposal” following negotiations between a small group of Democrats and Republicans. Among some of the biggest features of their proposal include closing the “boyfriend loophole” and bolstering criminal background check requirements for people buying firearms under the age of 21.

The boyfriend loophole refers to the fact that certain convicted domestic abusers — those convicted in cases against people who either lived with the victim, had a child with them or married them — are blocked from purchasing a firearm under federal law, The Washington Post noted. But it omits dating partners.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday he would likely back the legislation, a much-needed boost for its survival. 

Tags Don Beyer Mitch McConnell

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