California Firearm and Ammunition Tax Bill Headed to Assembly Floor

Contact: Keely Hopkins, Assistant Manager, Pacific States

Highlights

  • On May 20, the California Assembly Appropriations Committee passed Assembly Bill 1223 (AB 1223), which would impose an 11% tax on the purchase of a long guns and ammunition, and a 10% tax on handgun sales.
  • The proposed tax claims to “mirror” the 11% federal excise tax paid by sportsmen and women on the purchase of firearms and ammunition under the Pittman-Robertson Act, yet none of the revenue generated under AB 1223 would go toward conservation efforts.
  • The additional tax imposed by AB 1223 will drive up the costs of firearms and ammunition, deter purchases, and consequentially have a negative impact on California’s fish and wildlife through reduced conservation funding.

Why it matters: California’s law-abiding hunters and shooters have long played a vital role in funding conservation and wildlife management efforts throughout the state. Under the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF), a unique “user pays-public benefits” structure, California’s sportsmen and women generate tens of millions of dollars each year for the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. These funds are generated through license sales and an 11% federal excise tax on sporting-related goods, including firearms and ammunition. Decreased firearm and ammunition purchases that result from additional taxes and costs would have a negative impact on conservation funding in the state.  

On May 20, the California Assembly Appropriations Committee advanced AB 1223, which would impose an 11% tax on all long gun and ammunition purchases, along with a 10% tax on handgun sales. This bill was amended from its original version of a $25 tax on firearm sales to its latest form, which is said “mirror” the federal excise tax paid by sportsmen and women to fund conservation efforts via the Pittman-Robertson Act. The revenue generated by AB 1223, however, would not be used to fund conservation. It would instead fund a program that helps deal with criminal activity. This bill now heads to the floor for a vote by the fully Assembly.

Each year, California’s sportsmen and women contribute tens of millions of dollars to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, providing vital revenue to help carry out their mission of managing the state’s diverse fish and wildlife, and the habitats upon which they depend. These funds are generated through fishing and hunting license sales, and through the purchase of sporting-related goods. Under the Pittman-Robertson Act, a 10-11% federal excise tax is paid on all firearm and ammunition purchases, which in turn funds a large portion of the state’s wildlife management, conservation, and research efforts. AB 1223, if passed, would place an additional tax on top of the existing taxes, thereby driving up the costs of these goods, reducing sales, and in turn, reducing the conservation funding, which benefits all California residents.”

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has been opposed to AB 1223 from its introduction, testifying before both Assembly committees and joining coalition partners in submitting an opposition letter. CSF will continue to work with partners in opposition as the bill moves forward through the legislative process.

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