With gun violence running rampant in New Jersey, Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ-09) thinks he's come up with a way to raise money to bolster the ranks of law enforcement and help prevent it.

Adam Gault, Getty Images
Adam Gault, Getty Images

Flanked by local community leaders, law enforcement officials and gun violence prevention groups yesterday, Pascrell unveiled legislation to increase federal taxes on guns and ammunition. He estimates roughly $600 million could be raised.

"It has been well over two decades since tax rates were last adjusted on firearms and ammunition, and I believe it is appropriate that we look to these taxes as a way to direct additional resources to law enforcement, background checks and gun violence research," explains Pascrell. "This bill represents a major investment in the protection of our children and our communities, and reflects the long-term societal costs of gun and ammunition purchases in our country."

The legislation has been dubbed the 'Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities Act.' Pascrell says despite the high cost of gun violence, federal taxes on guns and ammo produced only $514 million in 2012, while federal taxes on alcohol and cigarettes yielded $7.9 billion and $15 billion respectively.

"As a former mayor of one of the largest cities in New Jersey, I know how critical the issue of reducing gun violence is to our communities," says Pascrell. "All across our country, local police departments have had their budgets slashed and been forced to lay off officers, reducing their ability to protect our communities from the scourge of gun violence."

The Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities Act would:

  • Increase the excise taxes on firearms from 10%-11% to 20%.
  • Increase the excise tax on ammunition from 11% to 50%.
  • Exempt all US government agencies from tax.
  • Maintain the exemption for state and local governments, including police departments.
  • Increase the Special Occupational Tax on firearm importers, manufacturers and dealers.
  • Include assault pistols in the definition of firearms covered under the National Firearms Act.
  • Increase the transfer tax on all weapons (except antique guns) covered under the National Firearms Act (excludes most common guns) from $200 to $500 and index to inflation.
  • Increase the transfer tax for any other weapon from $5 to $100 and index to inflation
  • Redirect revenue raised by the Act to: 35% COPS; 35% Project Safe Neighborhoods; 10% CDC Research; 5% National Criminal History Improvement Program; and 5% NICS Act Record Improvement Program; 5% and grants to schools and districts to implement comprehensive, evidence-based discipline systems to improve school climate.

The bill has gotten endorsements from: the Major Cities Chiefs Association; the Violence Policy Center; the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and its national network of Million Mom March and Brady Chapters and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Council of the Great City Schools, Heeding God's Call, New Jerseyans for Safety from Gun Violence and Ceasefire NJ.

"If law enforcement doesn't have the funding and resources they need then the streets are really not as safe as they should be," says Nicola Bocour, Ceasfire NJ project director. "We think that this will also help to drop some of the gun trafficking. It's not going to be cheap and easy to just stockpile guns anymore."

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