California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law Tuesday that will double the taxes on guns and ammunition, with the new revenue going to safety initiatives.
The federal government collects excise taxes on purchases of firearms and ammunition at either 10% or 11%. The new law adds another 11% excise tax, meaning that Golden State residents can indirectly pay as much as 22%.
Newsom said that he saw the tax increase as a “pretty modest investment” in gun violence prevention and believes it will help toward “reducing those costs ultimately.”
“The carnage, it’s too much. We can’t normalize it, we can’t accept it,” Newsom said. “This is a small price to pay.”
California is now the only state in the U.S. that has a special tax on gun purchases. Newsom also signed a law Tuesday that bans people from carrying guns in nearly every public space, which overhauls the state’s previous rules for carrying concealed weapons.
The tax does not apply to police officers or to businesses that sell less than $5,000 worth of guns or ammo over a three-month period. The tax is projected to generate $159 million per year, with the money going to the California Violence Intervention and Prevention Grant Program and the State Department of Education.
The California Violence Intervention and Prevention Grant Program runs initiatives that target young people in gangs and help them with life-coaching. The State Department of Education would use the money to improve security at schools and run after-school programs for at-risk students.
Chuck Michel, the president of the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA), told the Associated Press that both laws are unconstitutional. The CRPA plans to challenge the legislation in court.
“These laws will not make us safer,” Michel argued. “They are an unconstitutional retaliatory and vindictive response to the Supreme Court’s affirmation that the Second Amendment protects an individuals’ right to choose to own a firearm for sport or to defend your family.”
“They are being challenged, and the second they are signed, the clock starts ticking towards a judgment striking them down,” the gun rights advocate added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.