A bullet tax in the mix as legislators react to Newtown

One of the gun-control measures to be proposed in January to the Connecticut General Assembly would treat ammunition like cigarettes -- as a health hazard that should be heavily taxed to offset the public costs of gun violence.

Others would restrict the sale of ammunition to licensed gun owners, limit the capacity of magazines to 10 rounds or fewer and tighten the state's ban on assault weapons.

Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, who knows the parents of Ana Marquez-Greene, one of the 20 first-grade students shot to death in Newtown, said Wednesday she will seek a 50 percent tax on ammo.

 

Bye

With hand to mouth, Sen. Beth Bye at memorial.

 

Ammunition purchased and used at firing ranges would be exempt, she said.

A 5 cent per bullet "violence tax" was proposed in Chicago earlier this year, then abandoned. A lobbyist for Connecticut gun owners predicted a similar fate for Bye's idea.

"We should be looking for solutions to the problems, not these asinine ideas," said Robert Crook of the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen. "I don't think ammunition is a health hazard. We use it in hunting. We use it in target shooting. I don't know how you can call it a health hazard, unless it's used in something like this Newtown shooting."

The General Assembly should move quickly on gun control measures now being discussed in the wake of last week's mass shooting in Newtown, because the victims' families demand action, Bye said.

Bye said she was invited to the Newtown home of Jimmy Greene and Nelba Márquez-Greene, the parents of Ana, to talk about gun control. She worked years ago with Marquez-Greene, who is a social worker.

"Within 48 hours, I was hearing, 'Keep the pressure on the president and the governor,' " said Bye, an early childhood education professional who is a newcomer to the issue of gun control. "I'm a new study on this."

Bye made her comments in an interview before the General Assembly's observance in memory of the 20 children and six educators who were shot to death Friday at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

She said she was wary of calls to move slowly on a legislative response to Newtown.

"I think it is an NRA tactic to say, 'Too soon,' " she said.

 

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