April 8, 2024

Singled Out: Colorado’s Gun Owners Targeted for 11% Excise Tax on Gun and Ammo Purchases

Article Contact: Barry Snell,

Why It Matters:  Legislation seeking to restrict the Second Amendment is often eventually used as a vector of attack for other issues directly pertaining to sportsmen and women, just as restrictions on hunting are often used as a vector of attack against Second Amendment rights. In Colorado, recent efforts include a proposed excise tax, or sin tax, on the purchase of firearms and ammunition, likely designed to dissuade law-abiding sportsmen and women from purchasing these tools of the trade. It is important to be aware of these issues as they arise so you can have a full understanding of what may likely happen in the future and how it impacts our sporting community, even if Second Amendment issues are not your primary interest.


  • A bill to place a California-style firearms excise tax, or sin tax, for firearms and ammunition on the ballot this November was introduced in the Colorado legislature earlier this year.
  • As originally introduced, HB24-1349 would levy an additional 11% tax on all firearms, ammunition, and so-called “firearms precursor part” purchases; however, an amendment was made to reduce the tax to 9%.
  • The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) was present at the Colorado House Finance Committee and testified against the bill during its first read, and will remain engaged until the bill’s final disposition.
  • After several hours of debate, the bill was ultimately passed out of committee 6 to 5 and now heads to the House Appropriations Committee.
  • If HB24-1349 is passed by both chambers, the excise tax will go on the ballot in November for the people of Colorado to vote on.

Several anti-sportsmen bills have been introduced in Colorado this year. Included among them is House Bill 24-1349, the Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax. As written, HB-1349 would add an additional 11% tax on all retail purchases of firearms, firearms “precursor parts” and ammunition. This money would be used to fund mental health services, gun violence prevention, and support services for victims of domestic violence and other violent crimes. Colorado’s support services for violent crime victims are facing severe funding shortages after the legislature “defelonized” multiple crimes and reduced fine amounts in recent years, exacerbated by additional federal funding cuts.

Many of the bill’s proponents made it clear during testimony that they view gun owners and hunters as an undesirable segment of Colorado society and are intentionally targeting them with this tax to reduce the number of gun owners and hunters in the state. Ironically, many supporters of HB-1349 also claimed that they view the increased revenue expected from this new tax to be a “stable” or “consistent” funding source, despite also admitting they hope the tax reduces gun ownership.

Proponents of HB-1349 argued that this excise tax is constitutional and will be accepted by gun owners because they already gladly pay the Pittman-Robertson Act excise tax of 11%. However, the Pittman-Robertson Act simply redirected a pre-existing manufacturer-level tax levied on manufacturers of firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment not on individuals, as would be the case if HB-1349 passes. California recently passed the same sort of excise tax that HB-1349 would levy, and it is facing numerous legal challenges. However, those have not yet made it through the courts and the legal question remains open for the time being.

CSF was present during the House Finance Committee hearing for HB-1349’s first read and argued in opposition along with several of our in-state partners on this issue, like the Colorado Wildlife Conservation Project, Coloradans for Responsible Wildlife Management, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, and the National Rifle Association. CSF pointed out to the committee that state fish and wildlife agencies have received over $56.9 billion from sportsmen and women through the Pittman-Robertson Act, a pillar of the American System of Conservation Funding, since 1939. In 2023 alone, Colorado received $32,311,971 in federal funding for wildlife restoration and hunter education programs. With the passage of HB-1349, CSF warned that firearms purchases will likely decrease, which would in turn decrease the amount of conservation dollars generated through Pittman-Robertson.

In addition to the negative impact that HB-1349 will have on conservation funding, it will likely also have a negative impact on Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation (R3) efforts by creating additional barriers for entry into shooting sports and hunting resulting from the increased prices of firearms and ammunition, and supply and demand challenges. With this, it is likely Colorado will see a decrease in the next generation of hunters, recreational shooters, and outdoorsmen and women, which would be a detriment to conserving and managing Colorado’s natural resources for generations to come.

After several hours of testimony from approximately 120 supporters and opponents, HB-1349 was amended down to a 9% tax, though it still passed on a near party line vote of 6-5 and was referred favorably to the Colorado House Appropriations Committee. It is expected to pass from the House Appropriations Committee and the House itself during a floor vote. However, HB-1349 likely faces a tougher road in the Senate, which does not seem eager to raise taxes of any kind this year. Regardless, CSF will remain engaged on this issue at every step and will continue to provide updates as they are available.

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