Gun owners in the United States could face a massive $34 billion tax burden in the coming years should Democratic nominee Joe Biden's proposed gun control plan take effect, the Washington Free Beacon reported Wednesday.
The outlet cited figures calculated by the National Shooting Sport Foundation (NSSF), showing that some 20 million modern sporting rifles and 150 million ammunition magazines presently in the country could be subject to a tax under Biden's plan.
On his campaign website, the former vice president proposes ending easy access to "assault weapons and high-capacity magazines" by banning their manufacture and sale and "regulat[ing] possession of existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act."
That regulatory law already affects the possession of machine guns, silencers, and short-barreled rifles, which owners are required to register with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The law also includes a $200 tax.
If the existing law were to be applied to the 170 million modern sporting rifles and ammunition magazines as Biden proposes, that $200 tax on each unit would amount to $34 billion. While it should be noted that Biden has not explicitly called for a new tax on firearms, his proposed plan implicitly results in a new tax unless something in the law were to be changed.
Under the plan, Biden gives "individuals who now possess assault weapons or high-capacity magazines two options: Sell the weapons to the government, or register them under the National Firearms Act."
So, in essence, those gun owners who choose to keep their weapons would be forced to register them with the ATF and pay the $200 tax.
In a fact-check of a similar claim made earlier this month, PolitiFact acknowledged as much, though it concluded that "it's not certain that Biden's proposal would automatically trigger a $200 tax" as some of the plan's details have yet to be ironed out.
Responding to the news, NSSF spokesman Mark Oliva indicated that the sheer number of affected firearms and magazines ought to give the Biden team pause before enacting such sweeping regulation.
"I think if [Biden and his team] were smart, they would look at those numbers and get an idea of where America stands on gun ownership and gun rights," he told the Free Beacon.
It just so happens that the news comes alongside a Gallup survey showing support for stricter gun laws has fallen to its lowest levels since 2016. Perhaps public opinion would sway Biden away from his campaign position, but don't hold your breath.