The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Conference Center > Law and Civil Rights

Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools
Old November 15, 2012, 03:08 AM   #1
ronl
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 2, 2007
Posts: 783
Is taxing a right lawful?

Is it legal to tax a right, such as the right to keep and bear arms? Certainly we have seen steep rises in the taxes on our weapons and ammunition, but just because we allow the government to do it, is it legal? Certainly if you elevate taxes, then it will limit, at some point, the peoples ability to exercise that right.
ronl is offline  
Old November 15, 2012, 05:49 AM   #2
rebs
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 10, 2012
Posts: 2,240
raising the taxes on firearms and ammo would infringe on the second amendments rights of people with limited income. But infringement upon the second amendment has already happened in the form of AWB's, state bans on magazine capacity, collapsible stocks and flash suppressor's in New York State etc..
rebs is offline  
Old November 15, 2012, 07:25 AM   #3
Kreyzhorse
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 12, 2006
Location: NKY
Posts: 11,495
Taxes unto themselves are not an infringement on your 2nd Amendment rights no more than taxing my phone bill is an infringement on free speech.

However, they certainly could be raised to the point of excluding most people from purchase of guns and or ammo which is a back door method of prohibiting your rights by making them very exclusive.
__________________
"He who laughs last, laughs dead." Homer Simpson
Kreyzhorse is offline  
Old November 15, 2012, 09:28 AM   #4
Stressfire
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 16, 2011
Location: Ohio
Posts: 1,497
Quote:
However, they certainly could be raised to the point of excluding most people from purchase of guns and or ammo which is a back door method of prohibiting your rights by making them very exclusive.
Been done before - poll tax. Took a long time to overturn.

IMO, unless the tax became obviously prohibitive any challenge wouldn't go very far.
__________________
"The best diplomat I know is a fully charged phaser bank" - Montgomery Scott
Stressfire is offline  
Old November 15, 2012, 09:30 AM   #5
Rifleman1776
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 25, 2010
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 3,309
That is a tough area to discuss. But, a good question.
Look at Class III firearms they are heavily taxed to the point of excluding many (most?) Americans from buying them.
Rifleman1776 is offline  
Old November 15, 2012, 09:39 AM   #6
zukiphile
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 13, 2005
Posts: 1,654
I don't think a $200 tax is so high that it prevents many people from buying covered items. I do think it alters the value for money proposition of those items so that many fewer people may want to buy them.

I don't mean that in a pedantic way. I haven't purchased any ammunition since prices shot up. It isn't that I can't; it's that I think it is a poor value.

Quote:
Is it legal to tax a right, such as the right to keep and bear arms? Certainly we have seen steep rises in the taxes on our weapons and ammunition, but just because we allow the government to do it, is it legal? Certainly if you elevate taxes, then it will limit, at some point, the peoples ability to exercise that right
I bolded the pivotal terms in your post.

I have to pay sales, excise and environmental taxes when I buy tires, but I would have a tough time arguing for overturning those taxes on the basis that they infringe my right to travel.

Recall that one of the proposed facet of HilaryCare was to be a steep tax on cigarettes, but she and her commission concluded that too steep a tax would reduce revenue by discouraging smoking.

So, we know that taxing an activity may discourage it. Can the state discourage an activity, yet not infringe upon the freedom to engage in it?

The original $200 stamp seems an arguable infringement, but inflation has ameliorated a lot of that limitation.
zukiphile is offline  
Old November 15, 2012, 09:45 AM   #7
Stressfire
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 16, 2011
Location: Ohio
Posts: 1,497
Quote:
I don't think a $200 tax is so high that it prevents many people from buying covered items.
Not nowadays, but at the time it was implemented $200 was a lot of money
__________________
"The best diplomat I know is a fully charged phaser bank" - Montgomery Scott
Stressfire is offline  
Old November 15, 2012, 10:01 AM   #8
Brian Pfleuger
Staff
 
Join Date: June 25, 2008
Location: Central, Southern NY, USA
Posts: 18,791
Quote:
Originally Posted by StressFire
Not nowadays, but at the time it was implemented $200 was a lot of money
Indeed it was, approximately the equivalent of $3,200 today. The fee would have had to be about $13 to be what we consider $200 "painful" today.


Even though the left would say that we don't have a RKBA, they have traditionally been adamantly opposed to ANY restriction on what they do believe is a "right". Classic example are voter ID laws and restriction on any time, place or manner of abortion.

Even when ID can be had for free, they call it "voter suppression". Even with types and timing of abortion so heinous that even only a handful (literally, like 5) abortion clinics will perform them and single digit percentages of Americans think they should be legal, the activists refuse to bend.

This is not to start an abortion debate, only to point out that even the left refuses to accept limitations, restrictions and any action that might "suppress" a right.

(Hey, maybe that's why they don't like silencers! It suppresses a right! Ha!)

So, in short, no, it's not OK to tax a right. If a $5 fee is too much for ID to vote, a $5 fee is too much too charge for guns, ammo, whatever else.
__________________
Still happily answering to the call-sign Peetza.
---
The problem, as you so eloquently put it, is choice.
-The Architect
-----
He is no fool who gives what he can not keep to gain what he can not lose.
-Jim Eliott, paraphrasing Philip Henry.

Last edited by Brian Pfleuger; November 15, 2012 at 10:38 AM.
Brian Pfleuger is offline  
Old November 15, 2012, 10:03 AM   #9
Tom Servo
Staff
 
Join Date: September 27, 2008
Location: Foothills of the Appalachians
Posts: 10,398
Actually, the Minneapolis Star Tribune case implies that it is not lawful.
__________________
Sometimes it’s nice not to destroy the world for a change.
--Randall Munroe
Tom Servo is offline  
Old November 15, 2012, 10:04 AM   #10
Mike Irwin
Staff
 
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 36,074
'Recall that one of the proposed facet of HilaryCare was to be a steep tax on cigarettes, but she and her commission concluded that too steep a tax would reduce revenue by discouraging smoking.'

New York City found that out when they passed the highest cigarette taxes in the nation a few years ago. They claimed all along that the new tax wasn't to make money off smokers, but was to be of social benefit by funding programs, etc.

Only, many smokers simply went elsewhere to purchase their cigarettes, and the income from the new tax was about 1/3rd of what was originally estimated. That's when New York officials started whining about the low revenues, and it became abundantly clear that they didn't care about "social benefit," they cared only about the money. Yes, I know, I should not have been shocked.
__________________
"The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind" -Theodorus Gaza

Baby Jesus cries when the fat redneck doesn't have military-grade firepower.
Mike Irwin is offline  
Old November 15, 2012, 10:12 AM   #11
Mike Irwin
Staff
 
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 36,074
"Actually, the Minneapolis Star Tribune case implies that it is not lawful."

Note the reason why the court found the tax to be unconstitutional.

Had the tax applied to all print industries, or even to all newspapers, not just a select group of newspapers inside the newspaper industry, it's very likely that it would have been found to be legal.

As it was, the newsprint and ink tax created a special taxing category inside of an industry group.

On point hypothetical examples...

New tax on all firearms transactions of $5.

Constitutional or Unconstitutional?

Likely Constitutional becuase everyone pays it.


New tax on all firearms transactions -- $0 for white men, $2.50 for white women, $5 for hispanics, and $50 for African Americans.

Constitutional or Unconstitutional?

Very likely unconstitutional as hell on a number of levels, but the concept would be the same as it was for the Minneapolis Star Tribune case -- you can't create special taxation classes within a core group without some seriously good reasons.


A close corollary is the "Is it legal for a municipality to require an assembly permit and fee for demonstrations" question/argument.

That one has gone to court a number of times over the years and pretty uniformly the permits and fees have been found to be Constitutional because they are not structured in a way that they infringe on a group's rights.
__________________
"The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind" -Theodorus Gaza

Baby Jesus cries when the fat redneck doesn't have military-grade firepower.
Mike Irwin is offline  
Old November 15, 2012, 01:45 PM   #12
ronl
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 2, 2007
Posts: 783
You cannot compare this to, as one person said, buying tires, for there is no specific right guaranteed in the Constitution that grants you the right to buy tires. On the other hand, ownership of firearms is specified in the 2nd Amendment and has been upheld in the Supreme Court. I would argue that it is indeed unlawful to tax any right, for it will indeed limit the access of some people to that right. There are many examples of how government has limited us. We have the right to peaceably assemble guaranteed by the Constitution, but now you have to obtain a permit and pay a fee to exercise your right to free assembly. Is that constitutional? I would argue not, but we the people have allowed it.
ronl is offline  
Old November 15, 2012, 03:35 PM   #13
zukiphile
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 13, 2005
Posts: 1,654
The point of the tire analogy is that many aspects of life can elliptically involve a right under the COTUS. One has a right to marry, yet a fee can be charged for the license. Free speech covers a right to publish and sell, but the state can collect sales tax on books. I have a constitutionally protected right to travel, and I might argue that it is infringed by a 10,000% tire tax or a $100 per gallon gas tax, but ordinary revenue raising wouldn't infringe those rights.

In some cases, a court will examine whether the tax is punitive or whether it really pays the costs of administration and regulation. The problem with bringing those suits is that the state can always give you every last penny's worth of regulatory scrutiny you've paid for.

That isn't necessarily a better deal. I think we would all throw a party if all arms taxes, including but not limited to the NFA stamp, were prohibited. I don't see that happening.
zukiphile is offline  
Old November 15, 2012, 05:01 PM   #14
ronl
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 2, 2007
Posts: 783
Granted, in the world we live in this is true, but we are talking about power usurped and therefore not of its true constitutional form. In the Declaration of Independence natural law is defined as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In the Bill of Rights it is codified. These natural laws are granted by God, and in the truest sense cannot be taken away by any government. Yet, if I refuse to pay the taxes associated with these"rights", then I cannot avail myself of them. Therefore, the government, be it local, state or federal has usurped power that was not enumerated to it by the Constitution. The right to Keep and Bear Arms is associated deeply with the natural rights of life and liberty. Until recently it was always assumed that any person has the right to defend themselves against an adversary trying to do them harm. Now a person can be deprived of his way of life simply for defending his God given right to life. As to liberty; we would all like to think the pen is mightier than the sword, but historically nothing is further from the truth. All the words in the world mean nothing without the true power to back them up. The greatest force for change in all of human history has been violence and the ability to wage war. Without the ability to do violence to protect liberty, liberty will ultimately fail. It is not my desire to instigate or cause any harsh feelings here, and if I do I apologize. I only wish to offer food for thought.
ronl is offline  
Old November 18, 2012, 02:57 PM   #15
k_dawg
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 8, 2004
Posts: 563
Remember, they can now tax you for NOT engaging in commerce.

Did you eat your broccoli today?
__________________
"How a politician stands on the Second Amendment tells you how he or she views you as an individual... as a trustworthy and productive citizen, or as part of an unruly crowd that needs to be lorded over, controlled, supervised, and taken care of."
Texas State Rep. Suzanna Gratia-Hupp
k_dawg is offline  
Old November 18, 2012, 03:30 PM   #16
klyph3
Member
 
Join Date: July 11, 2012
Posts: 59
Some people refer to the U.S. as "post 9/11" but a more accurate assessment would be "post constitution" it's debatable exactly when we crossed that threshold, but one would have a very difficult time arguing that our government still adheres to it's foundational document.
Therefore, the question is not whether something is illegal or legal, as those have been demonstrated to be arbitrary terms. If it serves the agenda of the bureaucracy, it will be deemed legal, as they are the ones that make that determination. The partisan system of politics dissolves the separation of powers between the branches of govt. If members of all three branches belong to the same party that is funded by "corporate persons", a uniform agenda can be pushed through regardless of the protections built into the system, as they have been effectively circumvented.
The points about tire taxes not infringing the right to travel, or newspaper taxes not infringing the right to free speech are not valid IMO. The 2nd amendment is the only one that guarantees the right to possess a physical object. Thus, to accurately compare a tax on "arms" to other rights, we mist be just as direct. Would a tax on speaking in public be unconstitutional? Would a tax on attending church be unconstitutional? Would a tax on moving across state lines be unconstitutional? If the second amendment were held to the same standards as the other enumerated rights, the NFA, GCA, AWB, and any other law that infringes our RTKBA would be deemed unconstitutional. Unfortunately, we crossed that bridge before any of us were born. As one of the leaders of this nation put it, the constitution is "just a goddamn piece of paper". We shouldn't be fooled into believing that it actually affords us any protections when it has been blatantly circumvented.
klyph3 is offline  
Old November 18, 2012, 04:23 PM   #17
BlueTrain
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 26, 2005
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 5,825
A $200 tax on any kind of firearm still sounds like a lot to me and, anyway, the price itself of most firearms is prohibitive to a lot of people, believe it or not. But in the case of your right to "Life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness," the writers of those documents hardly believed it applied to everyone in the first place. So a poll tax is not an issue if you don't otherwise qualify to vote.

Our forefathers had a highly developed sense of how to make things work so that whatever they may have written made no difference one way or the other. It's not exactly a lost art, either. There's a lot of talk about illegal immigrants nowadays. Go see if you can figure out when Indians could call themselves Americans.
__________________
Shoot low, sheriff. They're riding Shetlands!
Underneath the starry flag, civilize 'em with a Krag,
and return us to our own beloved homes!
Buy War Bonds.
BlueTrain is offline  
Old November 18, 2012, 04:44 PM   #18
JerryM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 4, 1999
Location: New Mexico
Posts: 1,884
To a point, yes. However, it is easy to see that at some a tax could make the cost prohibitive. That, of course, is the intent.
Only the USSC could declare that it is not constitutional.

But with the justices that President Obama will appoint they might very well declare it to be a constitutional law. So much for the vote this election.

I expect gun rights to take a nose dive in the not too distant future.
Jerry
__________________
Ecclesiastes 12:13 *¶Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
14 *For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
JerryM is offline  
Old November 18, 2012, 04:48 PM   #19
BlueTrain
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 26, 2005
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 5,825
Gun rights have always been selectively applied, tax or no tax. There have in the past been laws (to attempt) to prevent certain groups of people from buying firearms by restricting the availability of the only firearms they could afford, namely inexpensive (or cheap, if you will) guns. We used to call them Saturday Night Specials, among other things. I can't name any such law but there was a belief that such guns were invariably the guns that criminals used. It was believed that criminals did not used quality guns like Colts.
__________________
Shoot low, sheriff. They're riding Shetlands!
Underneath the starry flag, civilize 'em with a Krag,
and return us to our own beloved homes!
Buy War Bonds.
BlueTrain is offline  
Old November 19, 2012, 11:48 PM   #20
44 AMP
Staff
 
Join Date: March 11, 2006
Location: Upper US
Posts: 11,508
A question of faith...

The Constitution is just a "piece of paper" but the concepts and ideas on that paper are real, but only when one has faith in them.

The supreme law of the land is just that. When people in or out of government decide that it does not apply to them and theirs, it is up to us, as a nation, through our lawfull representatives, to teach them the error of their ways, by all legal means. And that does include all options, even force, if necessary.

Remember the oath, including the part about "all enemies, foreign and domestic". Some people never took that seriously. Some people did,and still do.

Currently one hears so much talk about what is Constitutional, or what isn't. Recently the Supreme Court has made decisions which seem to fly in the face of logic about some laws. Trust in our system is at a very low point.

Any tax is an imposition, an infringement, if you will. But, it will be argued that even a tax that makes exercising your right onerous financially, if it does not fully prohibit that exercise, is "Constitutional". In other words, as long as you can exercise your right in some form, they consider it ok.

We have a right to keep and bear arms. But we do not have a right to any and every gun we might want, at an affordable price. The Constitution does not specify guns, it says arms. SO some will argue that taxing guns out of existance is ok, so long as we can have swords and bows. Personally, I disagree with that, but there are people who would make that argument.

The devil in the details for the 2nd Amendment boils down to a definition of "infringed". And our high court has already stated that some restrictions (infringements) are to be permitted the government. That is a done deal, and you won't change that, until or unless a future high court overrules it. Period.
__________________
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
44 AMP is offline  
Old November 20, 2012, 06:40 AM   #21
BlueTrain
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 26, 2005
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 5,825
If you ask me, the devil in the details is the word "regulated." That seems to be interpreted by some people to mean "unregulated."

The constitution is thought of as the law of the land, only it isn't. Every state has a constituion. They're all a little different. A constitution is merely how the government is organized and even then, it's pretty sketchy, and it probably should be. Otherwise you would have a government you might describe as Byzantine. But in any event, my trust in the system is the same as it's always been, neither higher nor lower. I lived through Nixon, Carter, Reagan, and Bush. The republic will survive.

By the way, who gets to decide who an enemy is?
__________________
Shoot low, sheriff. They're riding Shetlands!
Underneath the starry flag, civilize 'em with a Krag,
and return us to our own beloved homes!
Buy War Bonds.
BlueTrain is offline  
Old November 20, 2012, 07:48 AM   #22
mehavey
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 17, 2010
Location: Virginia
Posts: 2,944
See McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. 316 (1819). "The power to tax is the power to destroy..." in which Chief Justice Marshal refused to allow the state of Maryland to tax the Second Bank of the United States. Federal uber alles was the guiding trump theme then -- as might also be considered as the guiding principle behind prohibiting a tax on a "shall not be infringed" express Right nowadays as well.

But we're now far beyond all such nonsense in actually considering the express Constitutional intent of 2A. Even Heller said the government can 'regulate' that right -- which means it is no Right at all -- merely government sufferance.

qed





post: If you want to see the quintessential train wreck of Frankensteinian Constuitutional logic along this line of federal power to do what it wants at the individual level, see Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111 (1942)
mehavey is offline  
Old November 20, 2012, 08:53 AM   #23
BlueTrain
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 26, 2005
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 5,825
We were putting people in concentration camps in 1942, too, weren't we.

Another point of twisted logic is the whole purpose of the 2nd amendment. The obvious statement is that the people, or at least some of them, be armed, but to what end. To some, it seems to be so that we can violently overthrow government (presumably any government), while the conservatives among us believe it is to prevent the overthrow of the government.

That's just another way to look at it.
__________________
Shoot low, sheriff. They're riding Shetlands!
Underneath the starry flag, civilize 'em with a Krag,
and return us to our own beloved homes!
Buy War Bonds.
BlueTrain is offline  
Old November 20, 2012, 10:18 AM   #24
Brian Pfleuger
Staff
 
Join Date: June 25, 2008
Location: Central, Southern NY, USA
Posts: 18,791
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueTrain
To some, it seems to be so that we can violently overthrow government (presumably any government), while the conservatives among us believe it is to prevent the overthrow of the government.
In every discussion on this topic in which you participate, I always get the feeling that you believe that there must be some SINGULAR purpose for the 2A. This statement is a perfect example. How about, rather than either/or, the answer is BOTH and more?

I also get the impression from your statements, that you somehow correlate the rights of the people with some sort of benefit or service or rationale for the government. As in, what would be the interpretation of the 2A that would be a benefit to the government for having it. I could be wrong, but many of your statements sound that way to me.

Well, there is no singular purpose, except freedom, and it's not there for some future, theoretical government purpose or usefulness. It's there for the benefit of the people.
__________________
Still happily answering to the call-sign Peetza.
---
The problem, as you so eloquently put it, is choice.
-The Architect
-----
He is no fool who gives what he can not keep to gain what he can not lose.
-Jim Eliott, paraphrasing Philip Henry.
Brian Pfleuger is offline  
Old November 20, 2012, 11:06 AM   #25
mehavey
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 17, 2010
Location: Virginia
Posts: 2,944
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peetza
what would be the interpretation of the 2A that would be a benefit to the government for having it [?]
Originally, it was to have a cohort of able-bodied/competent men who could quickly form a "well-regulated" militia in response to a security threat to the state. It is very significant that this capability was to be invested in "The People" rather than reserved to an officially-controlled standing Army.

And if one reads enough of the Federalist papers trying to convince the State legislatures to sign on to the current Constitution, that very armed People was dramatically touted as the reason that no central gov't could sieze trannical power.**

2A was intended to cut both ways:

- The People's defense of a Just government;
- The People's defense against an unjust one.





** It was very much NOT for "...hunting or sporting purposes." It was for deadly force against humans purposes.)

Last edited by mehavey; November 20, 2012 at 11:19 AM.
mehavey is offline  
Closed Thread

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:55 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.13740 seconds with 9 queries