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What Is Kansas’ Guns and Ammo ‘Privilege’ Tax All About?

By: José Niño

As one of the most pro-gun states in the country, Kansas has set a strong standard for pro-gun policies.

By passing the 2nd Amendment Protection Act in April 2013, Kansas started leading the way in resisting potential federal gun grabs. This legislative action laid the foundation for a ban on state and local officials assisting or participating in the enforcement of federal gun control. The state also passed Constitutional Carry legislation in 2015, thus allowing law-abiding Kansans to carry a firearm without a permit. For its efforts, Kansas has received high marks from Guns & Ammo magazine, which ranked it in 4th place according to its 2019 ranking for Best States for Gun Owners.

But as history has shown, our liberties must constantly be safeguarded from power-hungry politicians lurking in the shadows. Cam Edwards of Bearing Arms called attention to Kansas State Rep. Jerry Stogsdill’s strange gun control proposal.

Stogsdill’s bill would slap on a 5 percent “privilege tax” on the sale of guns and ammunition in the state. Law enforcement and the military would receive exemptions from this legislation. According to HB2635’s language, the revenue collected from this tax would be allocated toward mental health services. The bill states:

“There is hereby established the residential mental health treatment fund in the state treasury. The secretary of the Kansas department for aging and disability services shall administer the residential mental health treatment fund. Moneys credited to the residential mental health treatment fund shall only be expended or transferred for providing residential mental health treatment. Expenditures from such fund shall be made in accordance with appropriation acts upon warrants of the director of accounts and reports issued pursuant to vouchers approved by the secretary of the Kansas department for aging and disability services, or the secretary’s designee.”

Not only is such a bill an affront to economic freedoms, it does not tackle the mental health issue adequately. In addition to most mass shootings taking place in so-called “gun-free” zones, most of the perpetrators come from broken homes. According to an article by author Suzanne Venker in 2018, 26 of the 27 mass shootings involved gunmen who grew up in fatherless homes. During the last few decades, America has experienced a wholesale deterioration in civic and familial institutions. This decline in social capital (which political scientist Robert Putnam analyzes in his book Bowling Alone), has produced negative social outcomes from lower social trust to increases in certain crimes. It makes more sense to put forward policies that reinvigorate civic engagement rather than pass gun control to address the mass shooter problem.

The good news is that Kansas is a solidly red state with only the governor’s office under Democrat control, while the rest of the state legislature is controlled by Republicans. Stogsdill’s bill will likely flounder in committee, as any half-baked gun control scheme should.

Nonetheless, it always good for gun owners to stay on their toes and make sure they don’t get blindsided by devious gun control bills that are introduced at the last minute.

José Niño is a Venezuelan American freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Sign up for his mailing list here. Contact him via Facebook, Twitter, or email him at joseinpolitics@gmail.com. Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Gunpowder Magazine.