Photo by Will Porada on Unsplash

Democrats are pushing a 1,000 percent excise tax on semiautomatic rifles, which could increase the price of rifles to as much as $20,000. Congressman Don Beyer (D-Va.) is expected to soon introduce a bill that would impose this radical tax in an attempt to make it nearly impossible for average Americans to purchase weapons like an AR-15. Sen. Elizabeth Warren says she is “open” to the tax.

This policy would violate Biden’s tax pledge to oppose any tax increase on any American making less than $400,000 and would restrict Americans’ right to bear arms, particularly low- and middle-income Americans. 

A semiautomatic rifle is a long-barreled firearm that fires a single round each time the trigger is pulled and loads the next round. While there are numerous kinds of semiautomatic rifles, the most popular is the AR-15. Currently, there are about 20 million AR-15 style rifles in circulation in the U.S.

While the price of an AR-15 starts at around $500, a more reliable, quality rifle will generally cost between $700 and $2,000. Under Rep. Beyer’s plan, the cheapest AR-15 would cost someone $5,000. For a rifle that currently costs $2,000, buyers would have to pay $20,000. 

Most AR-15s are sold with a 30-round magazine, which would be subject to the 1,000% tax. Many gun owners also purchase higher capacity magazines and/or numerous backups, which will certainly add up under this tax. If a standard 30-round magazine is now $10, it would cost buyers $100 under this tax. If a 100-round drum magazine is now $100, it would cost buyers $1,000 under this tax.

This tax would be yet another violation of President Joe Biden’s pledge against any tax increase on those making less than $400,000 a year. Biden already supports a $200 flat tax on every AR-15 and high-capacity magazine in circulation which would also violate his pledge.   

The federal government already taxes firearms and ammunition at high rates of 10 to 11 percent. These taxes are excessive, but they are not designed to make it impossible for Americans to buy weapons. In contrast, a 1,000 percent tax would essentially serve as a ban for most families, as Rep. Beyer suggests.

Evidently, this policy is a way to get around the U.S.’s robust protections of the right to bear arms. It’s hard to see how the spirit of the Second Amendment is retained when taxes imposed by the government ensure that the average American cannot afford a standard rifle. This would condition access to a constitutional right dependent on a taxpayers income.

Not only would Rep. Beyer’s proposed tax violate Biden’s pledge to not raise taxes on those making under $400,000, but it an assault on the Second Amendment. Lawmakers must reject this legislation.