Testimony presented to the House Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee in support of HB 5040, Establishing an Excise Tax on Ammunition.

According to a 2019 Congressional Report, gun violence costs Connecticut taxpayers $1.2 billion annually. This number accounts for healthcare, criminal justice, lost wages and employer related costs. This number does not include the millions that Connecticut spends to increase security at public schools, public buildings and places of worship.

Currently, we are all paying these costs equally — including the 84% of Connecticut’s law-abiding residents who don’t own guns. We all pay these costs evenly, even though nearly all guns and ammunition that are used in crimes are originally purchased legally by “law abiding” gun owners. Why should the 84% of Connecticut residents who choose not to own guns have to pay the same for gun violence as the 16% who take all the risk by owning them?

We know that more than 70% of gun homicides take place in Connecticut’s four largest cities — Bridgeport, New Haven, Waterbury, and Hartford.  If we invest in evidence-based violence intervention and prevention programs in these four cities, then we can both save lives and the state money.

At 35%, an ammunition excise tax is expected to generate nearly $7 million in revenue to be used to fund evidence-based programming with an emphasis on reducing and preventing urban gun violence.

You will likely hear the following from opponents of this proposal:

Unfair to law-abiding gun owners. Actually it’s just the opposite. The status quo is unfair to the 84% of Connecticut residents who choose not to own guns and ammunition.

A recent NBC CT report estimated that nearly 1,000 legally purchased firearms in Connecticut were stolen and used in crimes in the last 10 years. The total number in our state is much higher as this data was gathered from just a handful of police departments.

Nationally, between 300,000 and 600,000 legally purchased firearms are stolen each year. Nearly all firearms that fall into the hands of criminals enter circulation through a legal purchase. Law-abiding gun owners are responsible for arming criminals, even if it’s unintentional. Asking them to pay more to help reduce and prevent gun violence is both fair and logical.

Hurts business —35% is a starting point. I am open to a conversation about the rate at which most people would not spend the time and money to travel across state lines for ammunition.

Violates the 2nd amendment —It does not. There has been a federal tax on ammunition since 1941, set at 11% of the wholesale price, and both Seattle, Washington and Cook County, Illinois have enacted a local ammunition excise tax. Both measures were challenged in court and both were upheld.

Hurts poor people—Gun violence disproportionately impacts low-income communities. Doing nothing to address this problem is worse for low-income communities than charging an extra $3.50 for a box of 50 rounds.

Gives money to advocacy groups —I am proposing that the revenue be used on evidence-based violence intervention and prevention models, not advocacy groups.

It will do nothing to reduce gun violence. Criminals will still commit crimes. Actually, the revenue is going to be used to directly fund evidence-based programs that reduce gun violence.

State Rep. Jillian Gilchrest of West Hartford represents the 18th House District.

Join the Conversation

24 Comments

  1. Again the legal gun owners in Ct get punished for the criminals and illegal gun ownership mostly found in the inner city’s.What Ct needs is tougher mandatory punishments for a illegal carry or guns or both.Stop being so soft with all law breakers!

  2. Isn’t this the same as victim blaming? I mean, the people who owned the gun, or who were walking down the sidewalk, or sitting in their car, or even in their homes, were all doing so legally. What they were doing was not hurting anyone else, but still someone came along and committed a crime. They stole, they assaulted, they hurt someone else with or without a gun. To put the ownership of someone else’s actions onto the person who did nothing other than to live their life in a lawful manner, is nothing short of that. Would Ms. Gilchrist be willing to add any other class of victims to her list of those who should pay more?

  3. Dear Ms Gilchrest,

    I will gauge your true intentions by your willingness to bring forward the following Bill:
    “Bill to Stem Gun related deaths in our large urban cities: “Any individual found guilty of committing a homicide with a stolen or illegal firearm shall receive a mandatory life sentence, without eligibility for parole.”

    Now, let’s see if you care more about lives, than politics!

    1. I would definitely support this proposal as well. I don’t see how it conflicts in any way with the ammo tax proposal. Both would be helpful.

    2. In fact, there is a law that has been in existence for over 50 years. IF a firearm is used in the commission of a crime, the mandatory penalty, no parole, no plea-bargain is 5 years. Since an empty firearm is a paperweight, this law adds the same penalty for every round of ammunition in the firearm and possessed by the criminal. Even with a 10 round legal limit, ignored by criminals, our criminal is now facing 55 years in prison, no parole, no plea bargain. The law doesn’t care where or how the criminal obtained the firearm and ammunition. My question is why isn’t this law used to punish criminals. It is used DAILY in every legal firearm purchase, when the purchaser completes a 4473. The Law is known as the Gun Control Act of 1968, authored by Senator Thomas Dodd, (D) CT.

  4. A great idea. Place a small tax on ammo purchases by people whose guns (on average) eventually get stolen and used in violent crimes. Most of these gun thefts are probably not of guns properly stored in locked gun cabinets, like responsible true hunters use. I am one of the 84% majority and I support this proposal. Thank you also for disposing of all the baseless potential “objections.”

  5. I love how she puts legal gun owners in quotations as if they shouldn’t have the right. I would like to know how the seven million is calculated and why we need additional revenue to fund her program. If spending 7 million annually will save us 1.2 billion (or any portion greater than 7 million), just do it and allocate it out of the savings.

  6. I already shop out of state for most items simply due to my pure disgust of the CT government. Bullets will be no different.

  7. Connecticut failed to finish the job when it banned the sell of AR-15 rifles to civilians under Malloy because there’s still hundreds of thousands of civilians in CT with rifles who bought them before the ban.
    Some of which have actually threatened mass-shootings.
    Right-wing extremism will always be a threat as long as they’re armed.
    There’s also hundreds of thousands who ask why some get to keep their rifles but they can’t buy one which puts the 2nd amendment in limbo.
    The state needs to finish the job and confiscate the remaining rifles or allow the sale of them again.
    I don’t support police or military bringing their rifles home because they too are civilians when off-duty.
    Years back I read CT State Police yelled at Malloy when he suggested they go door to door and confiscate the rifles.
    Cowardice must be put aside for the sake of public safety.
    Confiscate the remaining military rifles, shotguns, hunting rifles and any other long guns still left in the civilian population.

  8. Only a CT politician would argue they can reduce crime by taxing it. That’s why I moved. These people have destroyed a once great State.

  9. Maybe the author would like to pay her fair share of the federal excise tax we already pay on ammunition (11%) and firearms (10%)? Overall, firearm owners pay well more than $1 billion per year in excise and sales taxes to the federal and state governments. That does not include the excessive fees paid for permits. In Connecticut, my wife and I had to pay more than $300 in initial fees to the government for the required pistol permit. This does not include the cost of the required course (another $200 to $300 or more). The renewal fees for a couple? Another $150 every five years. If you live near the Massachusetts border and travel over the state line frequently, you’ll need a Massachusetts permit as well. That costs $100 per year per person!
    I encourage folks who carry for self-defense and for home protection to train with their firearm. You’d want law enforcement to train right? I choose – voluntarily – to take classes from other qualified professionals a couple times per year. This ammunition tax will increase the cost of training to the point where it will be cost prohibitive for many. A couple of days of good training – not including ammunition – can already be more than $500.
    Law-abiding citizens who enjoy shooting firearms for competition, hunting and fun have been stigmatized for years. For some reason, we need to be monitored and placed on lists. We’ve also compromised for decades when it comes to rules and regulations.
    We’re done. No more compromising at all.

    1. Hi Steve, we welcome your comments but please note that our guidelines require that comments be limited to 1,000 characters. We will not be able to approve comments that exceed that limit going forward.

  10. Jillian wants to blame the victims of firearm theft. Law-abiding citizens who have done no wrong. She is treating responsible gun owners like they are a second-class citizen and wants to burden them over crimes they played no part in. The ignorance in this article is unreal. If you want to reduce gun violence, we need to make the punishments for violent crimes much more severe. Don’t punish the people who are already playing by the rules.

  11. Gun owners are well aware of this thing called “the internet” and will simply buy their ammunition mail order from out of state.

  12. As per taxes on Ammunition or Firearms for that matter, the founders were pretty clear when they wrote the Second Amendment, they were also pretty clear on all twenty thousand gun laws pro or con, they violate the Infringement Clause.

    The best defense against those who decide to become Monsters, is a trained and armed citizenry

  13. Can you just stop with this? .01% of Americans die of gun related deaths a year. 60% are suicides. That means .004% die a year from violent gun deaths.

  14. By bringing Chicago into the conversation, you already invalidated your argument. People get shot by the dozen every weekend in Chicago and it’s suburbs and the this tax does not do nothing to stop it.

  15. So people will travel out of state, purchase ammunition, and drive it home. They will do so while flipping the bird to this unwelcome tax, just as they do in Illinois and Washington.

  16. Because law abiding gun owner’s aren’t the ones raising your tax burden. Because if you make gun ownership a hardship, you are really making criminality more appealing to criminals.
    Because if crime rates rise, your tax burden due to prosecution, incarceration, insurance, and fewer people to pay tax in general due to evacuation and expiration will rise.
    Because it’s people that are violent, not guns.
    Because you or yours will one day look back and wonder why you didn’t see the forest for the trees of this situation and will wish you had done actual research for yourself and continued to back the letter and the spirit of the law of the 2nd Ammendment.
    Because you don’t want to be why every gun owned by non-law enforcement is owned by a vioent criminal.
    Because you don’t want to stand on your soap box to see over the crowd your neighbor who may be no more because Police can only react to what has already happened, and what happened was an unarmed citizen due to you tax died behind the actions of a well funded and well heeled criminal with complete disregard for your tax and distaste for defending yourself until law enforcement help arrives.
    Because you don’t want to lie awake at night wondering if you voted to disarm the patriot and give an overwhelming advantage of force to the violent oppressors.
    Because you know that the tax cost savings per capita are small secondary to the reparations of violent crime.
    Because when a violent crime is happening to you, you will probably have a moment of clarity about personal gun ownership.
    These are just a few reasons one may choose not to tax those with the fortitude and aptitude to protect the communities within which we live from a law abiding and Constitutional stand point.

    1. Hi Webb Don, we welcome your comments but please note that our guidelines require that comments be limited to 1,000 characters. We will not be able to approve comments that exceed that limit going forward.

  17. Let’s apply this logic to other things and see how you like it:

    Abortion – I am a man and will therefore never have an abortion. I’m completely against it. It’s unfair that my tax dollars fund abortions. We should tax the people who get abortions. I propose a 35% tax on birth control and feminine hygiene products to fund research on better sex-ed and in preventing accidental pregnancies.

    Education – I don’t have any children attending public school. We should tax all families with school-age children. It’s not fair to me to pay for their schooling and lunches.

    Food stamps and government assistance – I have had stable jobs since I was a teenager and have never needed help. We should increase taxes on people living under the poverty line to fund research on how to get them off government assistance.

  18. Rep. Gilchrest has decided that for all the shortcomings of her government to fail to protect the citizens of the state and in which she is an active participant, she will now tax even more those who live legally and productively and who ask little or nothing in return. This is pure socialism.

  19. Jillian,
    Your article is based on massive generalizations…I’ll play your game. You said that 1000 legally owned firearms were stolen. Based on your division of the population into two groups 84%(don’t own guns) and 16%(own guns), which of those two groups do you suppose the folks that stole those firearms belong to? Here’s a hint…it’s the 84%. Why would a person who already owns firearms steal them. Furthermore, the folks who commit crimes with stolen firearms are also amongst the 84% because they couldn’t be considered “law-abiding” gun owners. Pretty clear that some people belonging to the 84% of nongun owners are directly responsible for gun violence. Point being making generalizations of complicated issues is dumb.

Leave a comment