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Lawmakers Propose A 50% Tax On Bullets

by Hugh McQuaid | Dec 21, 2012 6:30am
(24) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Town News, Newtown, Public Safety

Christine Stuart file photo

Sen. Beth Bye

Not everybody is ready to talk about strengthening Connecticut’s gun laws, but state lawmakers already are starting to propose and draft legislation.

On Thursday, Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, and Rep. Bob Godfrey, D-Danbury, called for a series of new proposals they hope the General Assembly will approve during the legislative session that begins next month.

Last week, a gunman entered Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 26 children and educators. After a memorial service for the victims held at the state Capitol Wednesday night, Bye said constituents haven’t been shy about letting her know they expect lawmakers to respond to the tragedy.

“I’ve been overwhelmed by the contact and it’s not just simply been ‘We need to do something,’ it has been like, ‘What is wrong with you people? We have to do something now,’” she said.

Both chambers of the legislature met Wednesday to approve legislation to erase the state’s $365 million budget deficit. Bye said some constituents urged her to try to pass changes to the state’s regulation of guns and ammunition during that one-day session.

Though she began writing an amendment to the emergency certified budget bill, Bye said she decided to hold off so she could propose a more comprehensive response.

The next day, she and Godfrey issued a press release calling for a number of policy changes, which would limit access to high powered weapons and ammunition. For instance, one proposal would place a 50 percent tax on bullets.

“We tax cigarettes and alcohol even though a lot of people don’t get sick and die from them. It seems like a bullet is at least as dangerous as a cigarette,” she said.

Bye said she modeled the tax rate on what smokers pay for cigarettes. The tax would only apply to ammunition that was not purchased and used at a firing range. Those bullets are bought and used in a controlled setting and do not pose a public safety threat. Other ammunition, once purchased, could become a threat at any time.

“The idea is it is something that does cause harm to the public and it should be taxed, but not if it’s used at a shooting range where people are there for sports and it’s not hurting anyone,” she said.

Bye said she still doesn’t have a plan for the revenue generated by the tax, but suggested it could be used to fund mental health initiatives or the victims of violent crimes.

Other proposals in the package include a ban on ammunition magazines that can carry more than 10 rounds, broadening the number of weapons covered under the state’s assault weapon ban, and requiring a permit to purchase ammunition.

“It’s a real sort of hole in the law. You need all these rules to buy a gun but you don’t have to follow any rules to buy ammunition,” she said.

Earlier this week, Sen. Gary LeBeau said he was considering reintroducing his ban on high capacity magazines. LeBeau introduced the legislation in 2011 following the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Sportsmen and gun enthusiasts defeated the legislation. After hundreds turned out for a public hearing, the bill never came up for a vote.

But in the wake of the shooting—in a state that the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says has the fifth-strictest guns laws— people are calling for some type of action.

Constituents aren’t the only people who have asked Bye to take action over the shootings. She said the mother of one of the victims, six-year-old Ana Grace Marquez-Greene, also reached out to her. Bye asked what she could do to help.

“She said ‘Will you come down and see me? Because I want to make sure that there’s action,’” Bye said.

Beyond their firearms proposals, both Bye and Godfrey agreed Connecticut should assess its mental health services and try to find a longterm solution.

“We need comprehensive reform. We can’t just look at one thing and say ‘Okay we did gun control.’ We need to look at everything,” Bye said.

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(24) Comments

posted by: palmj82 | December 21, 2012  7:50am

50% Tax on Bullets cause they’re “at least as dangerous as a cigarette”  How many people do cigarettes kill vs. bullets?  Not to mention another tax so people go out of state to buy bullets where CT has no control over what they buy and hurts our businesses.  I think we need to say Bye-Bye to Sen. Bye (in the voting booth of course)

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | December 21, 2012  9:33am

Serious? Hahahaha!!

Somebody has to take the controls! The nuts are running the asylum! Twist one up! Lets escape to the Pacific Northwest!


posted by: gutbomb86 | December 21, 2012  9:39am


Actually, palmj82, we need to say goodbye to anyone who so much as raises an eyebrow against common sense gun control, and that’s how I’ll be voting.

posted by: state_employee | December 21, 2012  9:41am

Oh my God, are they serious?  These people who suggested this should step down.  Tax is not the answer to everything.  Children died.  Teachers died.  TAX IS NOT THE ANSWER.  If thats all they can come up with shame on them.  The tax all MO has gotten very old.

posted by: palmj82 | December 21, 2012  10:12am

gutbomb86, surely there needs to be a common sense conversation, but making bullets more expensive is not going to stop any tradgedy, it will just make responsible gun owners go to other states.  If they go to another state then CT has no control.

posted by: redlady | December 21, 2012  10:38am

CT legislators’ only approach to a crisis - taxation! 
How about actually passing legislation that could help a mentally ill patient? They blew an opportunity last year with SB452. Don’t take my word for it - look it up at 
Again, their abilities are limited and they proved it then and they will prove it again with the gun control matter.
That voters continue to keep them in office should be considered a disgrace.

posted by: gutbomb86 | December 21, 2012  10:46am


@state_employee & @fedup - increasing cost is the way forward to reverse the total proliferation/saturation of firearms in our society. I understand the cynicism about taxation but it’s one of the tools available and we should use them all. No single measure will solve all the problems but we need to make any and all decisions available to us TODAY to make sure that in 5 or 10 years there are fewer firearms available. Handguns are bad enough. But because of the efforts of the NRA and the other organizations that are, quite simply, fronts for the gun manufacturers, we’ve arrived at a place where it’s really not very difficult for nutjobs to get their hands on assault rifles. The NRA and the rest of the gun lobby have marketed a false interpretation of the 2nd Amendment and the gun community has bought into it. Our whole culture has failed in this area. We lose more children to firearms accidents every year than we lost in Iraq or Afghanistan in any single year during two full-scale wars. Something has to change and, finally, our leaders are recognizing that. Any lawmaker of opposes common sense gun control in the coming months needs to be voted out.

In terms of state vs. federal - I think it’s abundantly clear that the federal gov’t needs to act to make these laws effective and that appears to be happening. In fact, this incident has badly undermined Republicans in Congress because they’ve fought gun restrictions tooth and nail, resulting in the current proliferation. If the election didn’t prove that a majority of Americans have lost faith in Republican leadership, this “realization” about the failure of gun policy certainly goes another large step in that direction. I’m hearing from Republicans all over the place that assault weapons should have never been made legal. Better late than never.

I don’t know if either of you saw this story yesterday. This incident occurred Dec. 15. A mentally ill person managed to walk out of a CT store with a Bushmaster on the day after Newtown. Fortunately they were able to catch the guy - thank god. But that incident represents the failure of the whole system as well.

We have a problem, a serious and complex problem. Folks need to open their minds to it and realize they are in possession of extremely dangerous weapons that they have no business harboring in a civil society. Even their “legal” presence represents far too much risk.

posted by: kenneth_krayeske | December 21, 2012  10:48am

Look. It’s the start of the conversation. I’m with Ron Pinciaro at CAGV, who wants to register guns. We’re going to have to pay for the administration of a gun registry, like DMV. The State Police already deal with licensing, so the management should placed at Public Safety, but not every proposal is going to be perfect. If it isn’t good, she won’t get the support in the legislature. For the naysayers, what suggestions do you have to improve gun control and pay for the implementation of these regulations?

posted by: ALD | December 21, 2012  10:57am


  I am a fairly conservative guy who has no interest in owning a gun for any reason.  However I must say you twice here got it exactly right.

It appears we now have some of same people who argue that Capital Punishment is NOT a deterrent to violent crime, now perhaps suggesting that a 50% tax on ammo might be?? 

I guess I must ask at what tax rate on bullets do you discourage some mentally imbalanced individual from doing what was done last week because the cost is too prohibitive?

Loved the predictable line that reads:

“Bye said she still doesn’t have a plan for the revenue generated by the tax, but suggested it could be used to fund mental health initiatives or the victims of violent crimes.”

Do the words tobacco settlement suggest anything?

She is correct when she says we need comprehensive reform…......  I must believe that all of us no matter where we believe we see that reform coming from would agree.

For some that means stronger gun controls, for others it means asking some far more difficult questions as to what has caused some in our society to reach this point?  So it’s time our lawmakers stopped mugging for the TV cameras, and the media. They need to get to work digging a lot deeper than just guns and ammo. We don’t want a 10% solution we require at least a 90% one.

posted by: William Kurtz | December 21, 2012  11:06am

“. . .it will just make responsible gun owners go to other states.”

Fine with me if all the gun owners want to go to other states.

posted by: AntonK | December 21, 2012  11:25am

Of course, criminals could care less about a tax on bullets. Adam Lanza and other mentally ill people could care less about a tax on bullets (“hey, I’d like to commit mass murder, but that tax on bullets is a show-stopper!”) But, law-abiding citizens will now provide an “enhanced revenue stream” for the great, insatiable money maw that is Connecticut state government.

posted by: Connecticut_Chris | December 21, 2012  11:33am

So the best thing CT lawmakers can come up with is MORE TAXES? Really?

So people will just drive to the next state or order ammo online. CT will miss out on the sales tax and it will hurt the small businesses that carry ammo. It may even push more transactions to black market. Great job!

posted by: rankandfile | December 21, 2012  11:48am

It’s all about more revenues. If you don’t believe that, check out Jonathan Pelto’s column from yesterday on the schoolbus seatbelt fund

posted by: robn | December 21, 2012  12:39pm

Chris Rock agrees.

posted by: Longtime NHResident | December 21, 2012  1:27pm

Ammunition/Bullet control is needed just as much, if not more so then gun control. This should eventually be done on a federal level. I am so glad to finally see authorities addressing the ammunition angle-if you make it harder to get the ammunition by requiring a waiting period, limiting the number of bullets that can be bought, a permit to purchase, etc it may make it harder for people to be able to use their weapons for illegal purposes, if your legite who cares if u need to wait.There will always be a black market for anything that is controlled- look at gasoline after the hurricane. People were selling buckets out their cars. You can never stop demand, but can we try to make it harder to acquire deadly items and stop the ridiculousness of 300 round clips.

posted by: oliviahuxtable | December 21, 2012  1:57pm

Hey, how about a 50% tax on video games, on movie tickets to violent movies, on CD’s and music downloads to violent music…...OUR CULTURE IS THE PROBLEM!
Yes, we can, and should, legislate morality..this culture of do whatever makes you feel good isn’t obviously working. But then we would have to show willpower to be real role-models to our children and that would mean many fewer divorces, very few abortions (which would show we value ALL life), more fathers being involved in their children’s lives…..goodness, we are too much selfish little piggies for that….it’s a good thought, but WAY too limiting for our “it’s all about me” culture. Robert Bork, I miss you.

posted by: Santa | December 21, 2012  6:00pm

Let’s see farmers and other people that target practice on their own property and not at a club have to pay a 50% tax on their ammo?  Pretty easy to say if you are rich enough to live in West Hartford and belong to a gun club.  Also, I don’t think all clubs sell ammo or are equipped to do so.

posted by: Noteworthy | December 21, 2012  7:46pm

Beth Bye and Bob Godfrey would do well to shut up; sit down; study up and most of all listen - to healthcare professionals, gun owners and sellers and the public. Only after all that’s done should any legislator open their mouth to pontificate outloud - when they don’t follow this forumula for intelligent and informed discussion, they run the risk of everybody knowing the faces of incompetence and the knee jerk brigaide.

posted by: AR PRO | December 22, 2012  10:49pm

Wow, its unbelievable that these people would use such a horrible tragedy to push their anti-constitutional agenda on the people of Ct. I would like to see the data used to compare the illness caused by cigarettes and alcohol compared to that of bullets. You would think that the representatives of this State would have more to offer in a more rational idea. Banning magazines and calling for confiscation will do nothing but create criminals, putting a really irrational tax on bullets will just have people go out of state and buy in bigger quantities.. Really stupid ideas….

posted by: gutbomb86 | December 23, 2012  4:17pm


@AR PRO - about as stupid as suggesting the 2nd amendement takes precedence over the violated right to life of 20 children. It’s time to start collecting the assault weapons and high capacity weapons and ending their manufacture. End the manufacture of the bullets. In 5 years we’ll be much better off. Take a step back from the fascination with guns and see it for what it is - a proliferation problem.

posted by: stellathecat | December 23, 2012  5:08pm

I agree with some of the arguments on how impractical the taxation idea is. But I also agree with much of what Gutbomb says. I have friends that walk around with a pistol because it makes them feel safe, I think it makes them a terrible accident waiting to happen.

posted by: AntonK | December 23, 2012  7:45pm

Is there any kind of shooting you folks such as gutbomb86 and other will allow? Target shooting, metallic silhouette shooting, hunting, shotgun clay pigeon/sporting clay shooting? Self-defense shooting for protection of life and family?

posted by: Joe Eversole | December 24, 2012  10:53am

@gutbomb86, right to life?  Yes, we all have a right to life.  However, don’t forget, that the 2nd Amendment procures your right to life.  Don’t believe me, look up Hitler and the the Holocaust.  Gun Control, best way to eliminate a population.  Are you suggesting that people will stop killing if they have no guns?  Ted Bundy killed 30 (by his own confession) John Wayne Gacy killed 33. Neither of them used guns, but both were mentally ill.  How about Dahmer, he killed 17, again, mentally ill.  Not a single bullet was used by any of these people. In fact, most serial killers don’t use firearms at all.  (Son of Sam being an exception to the rule). 
I am curious about what the “False interpretation” of the 2nd amendment is, and what you define as an “Assault Rifle”.  Perhaps if you could explain those, then we could actually have a sensible conversation regarding firearms and their place in American society.

posted by: Captain Hook | December 31, 2012  1:13pm

Bye who?  A tax would just confirm the type of politician the Democrats have become.  This is a mental health issue.  Anyone who is talking tax should resign and let someone take their place who will address the real issue, which is mental health.