Prohibitively Expensive

Opinion by Chris Herries
Jan. 12, 2013, 12:32 a.m.

There’s been a lot of talk about gun control lately, so allow me to add two interesting tactics that I haven’t heard in the mainstream discourse. I’m not entirely sure about their feasibility, but they’re interesting.

The first is taxation. The ultimate goal is to make it prohibitively expensive to have a small arsenal of firearms, which these mass shooters usually have access to. It looks something like this: Your first registered handgun isn’t taxed, but any gun you buy after that becomes increasingly more expensive. Likewise, things like assault rifles or high capacity magazines would be heavily taxed. With the addition of taxing ammunition, it becomes increasingly difficult to own and operate a firearm, reducing the proliferation of firearms. Now there are a lot of shootings. It involves regulation of gun shows and private sales, both of which are daunting tasks. Likewise, some would argue that this places an unfair burden on the poor, who would have less access to firearms. Then again, that argument can be made for sales, value added or fuel taxes. The Heller case may have made it difficult for governments to ban guns, but they should still be able to tax the hell out of firearms.
The second is liability insurance. If I understand the concept correctly, a person will have to insure his or her gun for liability. It’s the same principle that makes me buy insurance for my car because there’s compelling public interest. There would be actuaries to assign different premiums depending on a person’s age, race, experience, gun type, etc. Theoretically, it would make it too expensive for an at-risk person to legally obtain guns. There are other benefits: for example, a person could take a firearms safety course to drive down their premium.
There are obviously a few common flaws, such as the need to regulate gun shows and private sales. Likewise, none of them immediately address the problem of illegal guns. Maybe we could use the extra money on enforcement? Or enact stricter penalties for carrying an illegal weapon? There are no easy answers, but thinking outside of the box on policy issues never hurts.

Chris Herries is a sophomore majoring in Latin. His interests include rugby, crossfit, weiqi, and public service. Please shoot him an email if you have an issues with his articles.

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