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Proposed tax on bullets sidelined for more study

April 15, 2013|By Patrick McGreevy
  • A 9-millimeter bullet rests on top of others in a box. A California lawmaker wants to put a five-cent tax on each bullet.
A 9-millimeter bullet rests on top of others in a box. A California lawmaker… (Keith Srakocic / Associated…)

A bill that would create a nickel-per-bullet tax to pay for mental health programs aimed at reducing gun violence hit a roadblock in a legislative committee Monday.

The Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee put AB 760 on "suspense" where it will be required to undergo more study on its financial effects before it can be reconsidered.

Assemblyman  Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento) said he is hopeful his bill will be able to make it to the Assembly floor. He said it is a response to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that killed 20 children and six adults.

"Gun violence is disturbingly prevalent both here in California and across the country," Dickinson told the committee.

He said gun violence resulted in 5,700 people hospitalized or killed in California in 2011. "We know that taxing ammunition  can provide a stable source of revenue to meaningfully target gun violence prevention," he added.

The estimated $55 million that his tax would raise annually would go to restoring a program providing mental health programs for children with the aim of preventing violence.

The state Board of Equalization noted in a review that the proposed tax would be in addition to an existing sales tax on bullets, and it said the new tax could become a burden to businesses.

The measure was opposed  by activists for gun owners, including Edward Worley, a lobbyist for the National Rifle Assn. In testifying before the Assembly panel, Worley held up a box of ammunition that costs $1.45 and that he said would face $2.50 in taxes under the legislation.

“What we are here to oppose is an excessive tax,” he told the committee.

Dickinson said he is working with another legislator on possibly changing the tax formula to address the concern that the tax could exceed the cost of some bullets.

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patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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