Clear Thinking About Taxing Guns

Written by Rob Morse on March 30, 2022

We are strange creatures. We see the world and build mental models of how the world works. Soon, those models become more significant to us than reality itself. That is dangerous when so much of our “experience” is from the news and entertainment media. We think our tiny screens show us what is really happening in the world. We want to be careful about what we put into our heads.

Here in the USA, there are over a million violent crimes a year. The vast majority of them do not involve the criminal using a gun. At the same time, honest citizens like us defend ourselves with a firearm over a million times. Each year criminals also kill a few thousand people with a firearm. Mass murderers kill a few hundred of us. That isn’t what we see on our small screens.

The media inverts those proportions. We might think that mass murder is common and armed defense is rare. That lets special interests with a political agenda play on our distorted view of reality. That is dangerous for all of us.

Three states recently passed constitutional carry legislation. That means that people who legally own a gun can now carry their gun in public without asking for a permit and paying a tax. The new law won’t change how armed criminals behave since criminals who were not allowed to own a gun were already carrying their guns illegally. Breaking the law is what criminals do every day. Our gun laws disarmed the people who obey the law, and now we’ve reduced those infringements on honest people in three more states.

Now that constitutional carry passed, more law-abiding citizens will carry a legally owned firearm in public and at home. That makes life harder for criminals since the thugs don’t know if their intended victims are armed. The criminal’s uncertainty makes all of us safer. We are safer if we choose to carry a personal firearm and if we choose to go unarmed.

I studied the effects of concealed carry licensing across the United States. As you’d expect, fewer of us get our license to carry as that license becomes more expensive and more time-consuming. What surprised and pleased me was that more of us take firearms training when the costs of a license go down.

That sounds counterintuitive from one point of view. If we drop the state mandate to take a firearms training class then more of us will take a class? I see why you could be skeptical.

Now consider another perspective. The state not only required a class, but they taxed us if we wanted to have a carry permit. No one would be surprised if more of us got firearms training if the state gave us a few hundred dollars. That is what happens when licensing fees decrease. We were able to spend our safety budget on firearms training rather than on paying state taxes and fees. We’re wealthier because the state isn’t taxing us as much, and now we can afford to take more firearms safety training.

That isn’t what the anti-gun Democrat politicians told us would happen. They said that blood would flow in the streets. They say the same thing each time a state considers removing the taxes and regulations on honest people who want to defend themselves with a personal firearm.

Whether we believe the politicians or not depends on the models of human behavior we carry in our heads.

Ask yourself if these anti-gun politicians were right. Did disarming the law-abiding victims make us safer? We already have over 23 thousand firearms regulations on the books. In contrast, there were 21 states that already allowed ordinary citizens to carry a firearm in public without a permit. When you listen to the news and hear stories of violent crime, are those stories of violence from states where honest citizens are armed or from states where honest citizens have been disarmed? Does the disarmament model actually make us safer?

It is nearly impossible to get a carry permit in parts of California, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and in Maryland. Cities like Los Angeles, New York City, Springfield, Camden, and Baltimore are some of our most violent cities. If disarming honest citizens made us safer then we should see the results on the nightly news. What do you see?

We all want to stop violent criminals. Some people decided that guns were bad so they passed laws that disarmed the people who obey the law. I think that model of human behavior is incomplete. I like it when the good men and women can defend themselves. That happens over a million times a year. I think that model of human behavior gives us better results than disarming the victims.

There is a bit of good news that we don’t see reported yet. We are not all the same. Some of us were able to pay the thousand-dollar tax in order to protect our families with a firearm. Many of us couldn’t afford to pay that much. Removing some of the fees and regulations on armed defense means that more of us can now afford a gun and self-defense training. More of us will be armed at home and in public. Fewer of us will be unarmed victims. More poor people can defend themselves from violent criminals.

That helps the people who need help the most. I like that, and so do most of you.