Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Otis Rolley Proposes Potential 500% Tax on Ammunition

Otis Rolly, Mr. Bullet Tax

Otis Rolley is a Democrat candidate for Mayor of Baltimore. He will be on the ballot in the September primary. Rolley wants to place a $1.00 tax on each round of ammunition sold in Baltimore. The measure has been dubbed the "bullet tax."

Now ammunition prices do vary widely depending on quality, feature, material, caliber, and brand; however, since most common ammunition typically costs roughly anywhere from $0.20 to $0.50 per round, this "bullet tax" amounts to tax of anywhere from 200% to 500% for average consumers. For example, if you currently spend $20 for a fifty-count box of 9mm ammunition, that same box will cost you $70 under the new law.  You will be paying an additional $50 dollars in taxes for that one box of ammunition.  Each round will cost $1.40. 

Otis Rolley is thinking that an increase in the cost of ammunition will discourage crime, but this approach is demonstrating his intense naivete. First of all, Otis Rolley is assuming all criminals buy their ammunition from licensed gun shops who follow the rules and pay taxes. Maybe some criminals do buy their ammunition from legitimate stores, but a lot of their ammunition is probably stolen or purchased on the black market. Placing a tax on legitimate ammunition sales is only going to further encourage black market sales.

Another obvious thing that Otis Rolley overlooked is how insignificant the cost of ammunition is to a person committing a crime. If a criminal fires his gun five times while he is robbing someone for $500, will he really care that he spent an extra $5.00 to get that $500? If anything, the criminal will probably want to commit more robberies to make up for the increase in his overhead.

There is another effect Otis Rolley may have overlooked. If the cost of ammunition goes up 200% to 500%, the legal gun-owners will be discouraged from practicing with their weapons. An avid marksmen could easily shoot a hundred rounds per month. (Some marksmen shoot thousands.) If gun-owners are suddenly faced with such a steep increase in ammunition costs, they will probably spend less time training, their skills will decrease, their accuracy will diminish, and they will be more likely to make mistakes in self-defense situations. These mistakes could be deadly for innocent people.

"This is not a revenue enhancement tool. It's a 'make it difficult for you to buy bullets in the city' tool."

-- Otis Rolley

There is another obvious problem with Rolley's proposal. If ammunition is highly taxed in Baltimore, people will just drive to the city limits to buy it. Since the buyers are making a special trip, they will probably buy extra ammunition to justify the special trip. Baltimore residents will still be buying ammunition, but the business owners in the city will not get any of the sales. Some ammunition sellers may be forced just beyond the city limits just so they can maintain a profit.

Given these obvious and simple realities, it is difficult to believe Otis Rolley is really this naive. Placing a $1.00 tax on each round is not going to do much to prevent crime, and it might even lead to bigger problems. What is really behind Otis Rolley's plan is probably a broader attack on the Second Amendment. When the $1.00 tax does not work, Rolley will want to raise it to $2.00. When that does not work, Rolley will want to raise it again and again. Eventually, ammunition will cost so much that no one will be willing to buy it legally anymore, and all ammunition in Baltimore will either be bought on the black market or outside of city limits.

A man who is as naive and so aggressively oppose to at least one basic civil right as Otis Rolley has no place being in a position of power and authority. A man so inexperienced, unaware, and unqualified would probably be a much better fit for a job like Community Organizer.

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