Excise Tax Bill Amended with an Urgency Clause to Skirt Legislative Deadline After Failed Vote

In order to get a crack at another vote following the defeat of his AB 1223, Assemblyman Mac Levine just amended the bill with an urgency clause, thereby permitting him time to secure votes after the “house of origin” deadline.

AB 1223, which seeks to impose excise taxes on guns and ammunition, failed to garner the necessary 2/3 vote for passage off the Assembly Floor on June 2, 2021.  Urgency Clause bills (as well as tax bills) require a 2/3 vote for passage;  thus, Levine amending AB 1223 which already required a 2/3 vote with an urgency is a tactic to open the door for another vote, post deadline.

“He’s not fooling anyone,” said GOC Executive Director Sam Paredes.  “The only reason Levine amended AB 1223 – which already required a 2/3 vote – is to buy more time to twist the arms of his colleagues who rejected the bill last week.”

Supporters of AB 1223 argued on the floor that the tax is “pennies”, however under this bill, buyers of average handguns or long guns would be paying an additional $60 to $75 more per purchase.

“This is hardly what most would call “pennies,” said Paredes. “and, this is in addition to the $31 in fees, a 10% federal tax – and before calculating the local sales tax.”

Given that people of color and women make up the largest number of new gun buyers in the state, AB 1223 would disproportionally impact this demographic.  Additionally, the overwhelming majority of firearms used in crimes are either stolen or secured on the black market by thieves.  In fact, according to the 2019 U.S. Department of Justice Report on the “Source and Use of Firearms involved in Crimes” only 1.3% obtained the gun from a retail source.

The cost of combatting all violence is something that should be borne by the entire public – not just lawful gun and ammunition buyers.  If such a tax were levied on those who have committed a crime while using a firearm, this would bear a reasonable nexus to the problem the bill purports solve.

AB 1223 will be eligible for a post-deadline vote next week.