WASHINGTON — A Virginia congressman has a plan to get gun reform through an evenly divided Senate: a 1,000% tax on assault weapons. The legislation would not ban the weapons, but the tax would make it difficult for many potential buyers to purchase one.
CBS News reports that since the bill would be a "revenue measure," it could be introduced through the reconciliation process, which would only require approval from 50 senators instead of 60.
"Here's an idea that recognizes you can't get 60 votes in the Senate right now, but gives us a way to put a bill on Joe Biden's desk," Beyer said.
The cost of a semi-automatic weapon can range from $500 to $2,000, according to CBS News. The excise tax would mean an additional cost of $5,000 on a $500 weapon. A $2,000 AR-15 would end up costing $22,000.
Beyer said he hopes the tax would drive sales of assault-style weapons down to zero.
"Anytime you make it significantly more expensive, it makes it harder for people to buy," Beyer said. "And... relevantly, it will be harder for 18-year-old young men to buy."
On May 24, 19 students and two teachers were killed during a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. The shooting reignited calls for more gun legislation in the United States.
Beyer may not need Republican votes for his plan, but in an evenly divided Senate, he will need every Democrat. But even key moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) has been willing to consider a ban.
"Talking about bans, I wouldn't have a problem at looking at some of those things," he told CNN on Monday.
Beyer said he hopes to talk to colleagues about his weapons tax plan this week.
"Yes, I do think it has a chance," he said. "This seems to be maybe the best chance we have."
Previous attempts to tax guns to death have failed. But Beyer thinks this time might be different. A bipartisan group of senators has been meeting to try and hammer out a plan that could get enough votes to overcome a filibuster.
President Joe Biden spoke to the nation Thursday evening imploring Congress to take action against gun violence. He said mass shootings had turned schools and other everyday places into "killing fields."
Nationwide death certificate data compiled by the CDC show that firearms were the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1-19 years old in 2020. The public health agency hasn’t shared data for 2021 or 2022.
Activists will come together in D.C. on June 11 for the annual March For Our Lives demonstration. Protesters will march from the Washington Monument starting at noon.
Four years ago, the March For Our Lives filled the streets of D.C. Thousands joined voices to demand real answers to an epidemic of gun violence. The student-led march took place in D.C. on March 24, 2018, a little more than a month after a deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Organizers estimate that 100,000 people will participate in the event in D.C., according to the event's permit through National Park Service.
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