California lawmakers will send a state excise tax on guns and ammunition to Gov. Gavin Newsom after years of failed attempts by Democratic legislators.
The Senate voted 27-9 on Thursday to approve Assembly Bill 28, which would require manufacturers, vendors and dealers to pay an 11% tax on guns and ammunition to fund violence prevention efforts. The bill passed with exactly the two-thirds threshold needed for approval of a tax.
Gun and ammunition-sellers would pay the new state tax on top of the 10 to 11% federal excise tax they already pay to fund wildlife conservation efforts.
Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel, D-Woodland Hills, authored the bill after former Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, failed multiple times to get excise tax bills through the Legislature.
Prior to Levine’s attempts, at least three other lawmakers had pushed similar taxes on guns and ammunition since 2013. Gabriel’s bill was the first of its kind to pass out of the Assembly.
When the assemblyman first put the bill forward, there were questions about whether it was “in the realm of possibility,” he said after the Senate vote.
“I introduced this bill at the very beginning of session,” Gabriel said. “A few weeks later, we have mass shootings in Half Moon Bay and in Monterey Park and in all these places.”
“Frankly, I think part of the reason the bill passed is the public is demanding this of us,” he added. “They are demanding that we have more solutions that will do more to protect their kids, to protect their communities.”
Lawmakers debate tax effectiveness
Many senators on Thursday cited their children and grandchildren and school safety concerns in their arguments for backing the bill. Floor debate lasted for about an hour before lawmakers voted.
Sen. Angelique Ashby, D-Sacramento, urged her colleagues to support AB 28 as a “mechanism to address gun violence.” She made her plea in the name of her school-age daughter and California children, as well as Amber Clark, a Natomas librarian who was fatally shot in 2018.
“Like so many Americans, I do hug my little daughter each morning as I drop her off at school,” Ashby said. “And as I drive away, I push out of my mind the unthinkable. Otherwise, it would be impossible for me to face the tasks I’m responsible for every day.”
But Republicans, and a handful of Democrats, said the tax would do little to prevent gun violence, and retailers would pass on the added cost on to customers. In this way, it would penalize law-abiding firearm owners, hunters and students taking part in shooting sports, they said.
“When you add another 11% on, all it’s going do is decrease the number of hunters,” said Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa. “Sooner or later, this will be like the tobacco tax. And sooner or later, this money’s going to go down, down, down.”
Gun control groups cheered AB 28’s passage and urged Newsom to sign it.
“This bill is an innovative approach in tackling gun violence and a crucial step to improve the safety of all California families,” said Cassandra Whetstone, a volunteer with the California chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, in a statement.
Gun rights advocates said they plan to sue the state over the legislation if the governor makes it law.
“The passage of this bill will be seen for what it is … an unconstitutional tax on an enumerated right,” said Rick Travis, legislative director for the California Rifle and Pistol Association, in an email.
The measure now heads to Newsom, who must sign or veto bills by Oct. 14.
(Yup, you read that right – California is going to tax one of our Constitutionally protected Rights.)
This is alarming, quite alarming. [H/T Collin Rugg] In a recent J6 case it has been revealed that Liberty Safe Co. gave the FBI background access codes to the safe and vault owned by the investigative target of the FBI, Nathan Hughes.
As the story is told, the FBI (federal govt) contacted the safe manufacturer and asked for a secret code that would open the safe. The FBI had a search warrant for the premises. Liberty Safe Co. gave the FBI the access code that would allow them to open the safe, without relying on (or asking) the owner to open it.
This is alarming on a few levels. First, why does Liberty even hold an override code for their safes. Second, why didn’t Liberty just tell the FBI they do not own the safe, therefore the issue of compliance is between the owner and the FBI?
Liberty Safe Co. responded:
This is a ridiculous position easily avoided by saying, “we don’t own the safe.” The bottom line is to avoid all the Liberty Safe products that allow them to access your private holdings, including gun safes and personal papers. If you own a Liberty Safe, just get rid of it. It’s compromised. Write it off to a lesson learned and forget about it.
There are an estimated 120 African hippos loose in Colombia’s labyrinthine waterways today. The name hippopotamus has Greek origins. Literally translated the word means, “river horse.” The animal’s genus is Hippopotamidae.
Hippos are omnivores, meaning they eat most anything they can catch. A fully grown male hippopotamus can weigh upwards of 3,300 pounds. Hippos look sweet and cuddly. They’re not. An adult hippo can run at 30 mph and is legendarily mean-tempered. Hippos are one of the most dangerous animals in Africa, accounting for some 500 dead Africans per annum.
Around the world hippos are considered threatened. However, the hippos in Colombia have no natural predators and are breeding like enormous toothy bunnies. If active culling is not introduced the population should reach 1,400 animals by 2034.
A handful of big males have been castrated and released thus far, but, as one might imagine, this is a fairly onerous chore. It apparently costs around $50,000 to castrate a single hippo. Considering the technical challenges it still seems to me that professional hippo castrators are grossly underpaid.
These 120 animals all descended from a single male and three female specimens purchased in New Orleans in the late 1980s by Pablo Escobar. When he wasn’t collecting exotic animals, Escobar ran the Medellin cartel, the most ruthless and successful of the sundry Colombian drug organizations. How the world rid itself of Pablo is a story most sordid.
Pablo Escobar was born in December of 1949 in Rionegro, Antioquia, Colombia, the third of seven children. His dad was a farmer and his mom an elementary school teacher. Some people are born with a sweet tooth or a proclivity for sports. Pablo Escobar was born without a conscience.
As a teenager, Escobar would steal gravestones and sand them down flat for resale. He made money in high school by selling counterfeit high school diplomas. Escobar and his buddies stole cars, smuggled cigarettes, and peddled fake lottery tickets. In the early 1970s, Pablo kidnapped a local Medellin executive and returned him in exchange for a $100,000 ransom. This was clearly where the real money was. By his 26th birthday, Pablo Escobar had three million dollars in a local bank.
Seeing the meteoric rise in demand for cocaine in the US, Escobar organized to meet it. By the early 80’s Pablo was seriously rich. He bought 7,000 acres of prime land in Antioquia for $63 million and built Hacienda Napoles, his luxury estate. The facility included a bull ring, an ample lake, a sculpture garden, and a functioning zoo. That’s where the hippos came from.
When he felt threatened Pablo took human life with wanton abandon. In 1985 the Colombian Supreme Court was reconsidering the extradition treaties between Colombia and the United States. Escobar was displeased, so he bankrolled an attack on the court that ultimately killed fully half of the Supreme Court justices.
On the surface Escobar maintained a Robin Hood-style life, giving generously to local charities and infrastructure projects. Such generosity bought him the loyalty of locals that was to be invaluable later while he was on the run. However, along the way, he also murdered some 4,000 people.
Some of his targets were police officials he had terminated via professional sicarios (hitmen). He undertook a sprawling bombing campaign as well. Eventually, Escobar successfully lobbied the Colombian Constituent Assembly to amend the Constitution to prevent extradition to the United States. With this legislative adjustment in the bag, Pablo Escobar surrendered to authorities along with a pledge to desist all criminal activity.
Escobar was remanded to a luxury prison of his own construction called La Catedral. This facility included a football pitch, a bar, a Jacuzzi, a giant dollhouse, and a waterfall. However, it became obvious that Escobar was still running his cartel’s activities while technically incarcerated, so he was ordered moved to a more conventional facility. On July 22, 1992, Escobar escaped during the transfer.
A dedicated unit of Colombian special operators called the Search Bloc was formed for the sole purpose of hunting down Pablo Escobar. The Search Bloc enjoyed the support of the US Joint Special Operations Command. Delta and DevGru instructors trained the Search Bloc in advanced close combat techniques.
In addition to the Search Bloc, Escobar was hounded by a vigilante mob known as Los Pepes. This was short for Los Peseguidos por Pablo Escobar or “People Persecuted by Pablo Escobar.” These guys were flat-out terrifying. Before the dust settled they had murdered some 300 of Pablo’s associates to include his lawyer and a variety of family members. They also destroyed a great deal of the Medellin cartel’s physical property.
By early December 1993, Pablo Escobar had been on the run for sixteen months. Guided by dedicated direction finding assets tracking his radio phone, the Search Bloc closed in on the flat where he was hiding out. Eight Search Bloc operators stormed the apartment with ample backup troops pulling up in support. Escobar and his bodyguard, nicknamed “The Lemon,” piled out a back window and fled across the rooftops. Both men were cut down like dogs. When the Search Bloc shooters got to his body they found Pablo Escobar, the richest most powerful criminal in the world, dead from a gunshot wound to the right ear.
This resulted in quite the famous photograph that showed the Search Bloc operators posing around Escobar’s cooling corpse like some recently-bagged whitetail. Studying this photo demonstrates an eclectic array of small arms. As their operations were brief, frenetic, and typically executed in heavily built-up areas, weapon and ammo commonality would not be as important as might be the case in an austere field environment away from resupply.
The rank and file shooters carried license-produced Israeli Galil assault rifles made in Colombia by INDUMIL. First fielded in 1972, the Galil was a hybrid design that incorporated the action of the AKM, the 5.56mm chambering of the M16, and the side-folding buttstock of the FN FAL. The first prototypes were actually built on milled Valmet receivers illicitly smuggled into Israel during the developmental process.
One shooter carries what looks like a Mini-Uzi. Introduced to Israeli Special Forces troops in 1954, the full-sized stamped steel 9mm Uzi submachine gun helped carry the fledgling Jewish state through some of its darkest days immediately after independence. The Mini-Uzi utilizes the same fire controls and magazine but is markedly more compact. It also sports a spunkier 950+ rpm rate of fire as a result.
One Colombian operator carries a Model 653 Colt Commando assault rifle. A precursor to the modern M4, the Model 653 features a thin-profile 14.5-inch barrel and standard round handguards. His 653 sports a pair of magazines taped side by side.
The shooter in the foreground confounded me. At first brush, I thought his rifle was perhaps a chopped FN FAL. The dual magazines appear to be .30-caliber, and the side-folding stock looks about right. However, there appears to be a charging handle of some sort on the right, and the front sight/gas block arrangement doesn’t seem quite right for an FAL. If nothing else the FAL has its charging handle on the left. What do you think? Post your thoughts in the comments section below, and let’s figure this out together.
The Rest of the Story
At the apex of his power, Pablo Escobar’s Medellin drug cartel was bringing in $420 million per week, or around $6 million each day. With a net worth of about $25 billion, Escobar was one of the richest men on the planet. In the late 1980’s he offered to pay off Colombia’s $10 billion national debt in exchange for exemption from any extradition treaties with the US. In 1992 while on the run with his family Pablo actually physically burned $2 million in cash keeping his daughter warm.
Escobar had more cash money than he could ever spend. He stashed it in warehouses and buried it in fields. Around 10% or $2.1 billion was written off annually as misplaced, destroyed by the weather, or eaten by rats.
Escobar built local hospitals, housing projects, and soccer stadiums for the poor of Medellin. He was elected to the Colombian Congress in 1982 but forced out by a justice minister who exposed his illegal dealings. Escobar had the minister killed.
Escobar’s solution to his life’s many challenges was summed up in his motto “Plata o Plumo.” This literally translates to “Silver or Lead.” If he could not bribe his way to a solution then he had those responsible killed. In 1989 his cartel planted a bomb on board an aircraft carrying a suspected informant. 100 people perished in the crash.
Pablo Escobar died the day after his 44th birthday. To this day nobody is really sure who fired the fatal shot. However, his son Juan Pablo reported later that his dad had told him many times that he would never allow himself to be captured alive. Should his arrest be imminent his plan was to shoot himself through his right ear. Escobar’s recently-fired SIG SAUER handgun was indeed found on the roof alongside his body when the Search Bloc reached his corpse.
President Joe Biden and the Department of Justice announced a proposed rule to change who will need a federal firearms license (FFL) to sell firearms.
The long-awaited rule was hailed by anti-gun groups like Everytown for Gun Safety, Giffords, and Brady United as a way of closing the “gun show loophole” and the “internet loophole.” Anti-gun organizations claim this is a step towards universal background checks, a centerpiece of the Biden Administration’s anti-gun policy.
The proposed rule is powered by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), which was a law championed by Chris Murphy (D-CT) and John Cornyn (R-TX). The BSCA changed the law’s wording to describe who the federal government considers a gun dealer. The bill altered the language of Section 921(a) of Title 18, United States Code.
The BSCA changed the definition of someone “engaged in the business” of selling guns from “with the principal objective of livelihood and profit” to the ambiguous statement of “to predominantly earn a profit.” Now, the Biden Administration is exploiting that change through the upcoming rule. At the time, some Republicans who backed the law blew off the concerns that an anti-gun administration would exploit the language. The change read:
(22) The term `to predominantly earn a profit’ means that the intent underlying the sale or disposition of firearms is predominantly one of obtaining pecuniary gain, as opposed to other intents, such as improving or liquidating a personal firearms collection: Provided, that proof of profit shall not be required as to a person who engages in the regular and repetitive purchase and disposition of firearms for criminal purposes or terrorism.
The new rule will also affect those that sell multiples of the same type of firearms. This section means that anyone who liquidates a collection of Glock pistols must acquire an FFL before they can liquidate the guns. Many people collect certain guns, and this would prevent the legal transfer of those firearms without an FFL.
Unlicensed sellers who sell through “online auctions” would be required to obtain an FFL under the proposed rule. This section is a targeted shot at sites like Armslist.
These websites do not sell firearms and currently do not have to get an FFL. The new rule seems to change that. This has long been a goal of the Biden Administration, which has put out false narratives about online gun sales, such as buyers not having to go through background checks for guns purchased online. The rule reads:
“In addition, it clarifies the term “dealer,” including how that term applies to auctioneers, and defines the term “responsible person.” These proposed changes would assist persons in understanding when they are required to have a license to deal in firearms.”
“These examples are provided to clarify for unlicensed persons that firearms dealing requires a license in whatever place or through whatever medium the firearms are purchased and sold, including the Internet and locations other than a traditional brick and mortar store.”
Armslist is specifically called out in the rule. Armslist is a firearms version of “Craigslist List.” Armslist has been the target of anti-gun groups for years who keep launching and losing lawsuits against the website. Many think this is a concerted effort to hurt the website’s business by stating up to 25% of people selling on the site will require an FFL under the proposed rule. The rule reads:
“To better estimate both online and offline sales, ATF assumed, based on best professional judgment of FIPB SMEs and with limited available information, that the national online marketplace estimate above may represent 25 percent of the total national firearms market, which would also include in-person, local, or other offline transactions like flea markets, State-wide exchanges, or websites within each of the 50 States.”
The rule would make it so that anyone who rents a table at a gun show will be assumed to be in the business of selling firearms, meaning that private citizens will no longer be able to sell their firearms at any gun show.
Also, if someone advertises their firearms for sale, they could be assumed to be in the business of selling firearms, which will shut down most private sales. The rule reads:
“Based on this decades-long body of experience, the proposed rule provides that, absent reliable evidence to the contrary, a person is presumed to have the intent to “predominantly earn a profit” when the person: (1) advertises, markets, or otherwise promotes a firearms business (e.g., advertises or posts firearms for sale, including on any website, establishes a website for selling or offering for sale their firearms, makes available business cards, or tags firearms with sales prices), regardless of whether the person incurs expenses or only promotes the business informally;94 (2) purchases, rents, or otherwise secures or sets aside permanent or temporary physical space to display or store firearms they offer for sale, including part or all of a business premises, table or space at a gun show, or display case;95 (3) makes or maintains records, in any form, to document, track, or calculate profits and losses from firearms purchases and sales;96 (4) purchases or otherwise secures merchant services as a business (e.g., credit card transaction services, digital wallet for business) through which the person makes or offers to make payments for firearms transactions;97 (5) formally or informally purchases, hires, or otherwise secures business security services (e.g., a central station-monitored security) system registered to a business,98 or guards for security99) to protect business assets or transactions that include firearms; (6) formally or informally establishes a business entity, trade name, or online business account, including an account using a business name on a social media or other website, through which the person makes or offers to make firearms transactions;100 (7) secures or applies for a State or local business license to purchase for resale or to sell merchandise that includes firearms; or (8) purchases a business insurance policy, including any riders that cover firearms inventory. 101 Any of these nonexclusive, firearms-business-related activities justifies a rebuttable presumption that the person has the requisite intent to predominantly earn a profit from reselling or disposing of firearms.”
By requiring more people to get FFLs, it will prevent a lot of Americans from selling guns. The secondary market has been an excellent way for those less fortunate to acquire the means of protection. Those who choose to get an FFL will be subject to unannounced warrantless inspections. These inspections have been used to revoke gun shop’s FFLs under the Biden Administration’s zero-tolerance policy.
FFL revocation is up between 350% and 500% and is currently at a 17-year high. The amount of record keeping, cost, and hostile environment created by the ATF could mean that many will not get an FFL to sell their firearms, which could be part of Biden’s plan.
The government’s argument is most criminals do not get their guns from gun dealers. That fact is true, but most criminals do not get firearms from legal transactions. Most guns used in crimes are obtained illegally through such means as theft, which means this rule will not prevent criminals from getting firearms.
“The U.S. Sentencing Commission reports that “88.8 percent of firearm offenders sentenced under §2K2.1130 [of the United States Sentencing Commission GuidelinesManual (Nov. 2021)] were [already] prohibited from possessing a firearm” under 18U.S.C. 922(g). These individuals would thus have been flagged in a background check,would have therefore been prohibited from buying a firearm from a licensed dealer after their first offense, and would not have been able to commit the subsequent firearms offense(s) if their seller had been licensed.”
There will be an exception for gifting firearms between family members. Although this type of transfer only makes up a small portion of transfers. There will be a 90-day comment period once the proposed rule is posted to the federal registry. After the comment period, a final rule will be unveiled.”
AmmoLand News is currently reaching out to those Republicans who backed the BSCA to get comments.