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Pro-Freedom Groups Set Sights On California Firearm Excise Tax

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A coalition of pro-gun organizations has filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of California in the County of San Diego challenging the state’s 11% excise tax on firearms, gun parts and ammunition.

California’s Firearms Excise Tax, created by Assembly Bill 28 during the last session, imposes the tax on gun sellers, not gun purchasers. However, as with any other tax scheme, the increase is passed on to the final purchaser.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday and titled Jaymes v. Maduros, was filed by the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), National Rifle Association (NRA), Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and California Rifle & Pistol Association (CRPA) on behalf of two individual plaintiffs, Danielle Jaymes and Joshua Gerken. Jaymes and Gerken purchased a firearm and ammunition on July 1, 2024, the date the excise tax provision took effect, and the cost of both purchases increased by 11% due to the tax.

Brandon Combs, FPC president, said in a news release announcing the lawsuit that unconstitutionally targets gun owners for political purposes.

“California’s unconstitutional and immoral gun tax is a modern Jim Crow law that targets people and rights hated by tyrants like Gov. Gavin Newsom,” Combs said. “Thankfully, the Constitution forbids California’s political warfare scheme. FPC and our allies are committed to restoring the right to keep and bear arms in California and throughout the United States.”

The suit makes clear that the California tax is a direct violation of plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights and should be struck down.

“Here, California effectively seeks the power to destroy the exercise of a constitutional right by singling it out for special taxation,” the complaint reads. “If this tax is permitted, there is nothing stopping California from imposing a 50% or even 100% tax on a constitutional right it disfavors—whether it be the right to keep and bear arms, the right to free exercise of religion or any other right.”

Citing the 2022 Bruen ruling, the complaint further states: “California’s 11% excise tax on firearms and ammunition infringes Plaintiffs’ rights under the Second Amendment because it implicates conduct protected by the Second Amendment’s plain text—acquiring firearms and ammunition—and is not part of this Nation’s history of gun regulation. Defendant will be unable to present widespread, relevantly similar analogues from the Founding era to support the tax.”

Randy Kozuch, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, said his organization could not overlook such an overt attack on gun owners and gun purchasers.

“The National Rifle Association has a record of challenging laws that needlessly abridge the rights of law-abiding Americans,” Kozuch said in a news item to members. “California’s firearms excise tax is a blatant and egregious attack on the rights of Californians and a calculated maneuver to dismantle the Second Amendment.”

Plaintiffs in the case are seeking a declaratory judgment stating that the tax is unconstitutional and a preliminary injunction enjoining its enforcement.

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