Congressman Danny K. Davis (7th) appeared alongside Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy during a Feb. 25 press conference held outside of Mount Sinai Hospital, 1500 S. Fairfield Ave. in North Lawndale, to announce that he would introduce legislation this week to increase federal taxes on the purchase of guns and ammunitions — something that hasn’t been done in decades.  

The Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities Act would raise the excise taxes on pistols and revolvers from 10 percent to 20 percent, and the excise tax on firearms from 11 percent to 20 percent. The excise tax on ammunition would increase from 11 percent to 50 percent. 

“The excise taxes on guns and ammunitions have not changed since 1919 and 1941, respective,” according to a fact sheet Davis’s office distributed after the press conference. 

“Given the high costs incurred by governments due to gun violence, an increase in federal taxes represents a reasonable step forward to address the national crisis of gun violence.” 

Davis cited statistics from the University of Chicago Crime Lab, which estimates that “gun violence costs Chicago and its residents $2.5 billion a year,” the fact sheet states.

“Despite the high cost of gun violence, current federal taxes on guns and ammunition yielded only $749 million in 2016 and apply to fish and wildlife conservation, not gun violence reduction,” it continues. “In contrast, the federal taxes on alcohol and tobacco yielded $8 billion and $13.27 billion in 2016, respectively.” 

The tax would also close the loopholes that help the owners of assault weapons avoid paying taxes and abiding by certain regulations. 

For instance, the measure would “close the loophole on quasi-assault rifle pistols by including them in the definition of ‘firearm’ under the National Firearms Act, thereby subjecting them to the same requirements as other firearms,” according to Davis’s office. 

The new measure would mean that owners of quasi-assault rifle pistols would be subject to stricter background checks, would need to pay a transfer tax and would be required to file an application to register under the National Firearms Act. 

The proposed legislation would apply the new revenue created, estimated at $977 million, would go to fund anti-violence research and initiatives. 

“There’s no reason to have the ability for individual citizens to walk around with assault weapons,” Davis told reporters during the Feb. 25 press conference. 

Kennedy echoed Davis’s sentiment, adding that Illinois needs to “ban assault rifles,” but until that happens, gun owners should be taxed so that they pay their fair share for the social costs that result from the guns and ammunition.