President Obama today rolled out a list of executive orders and suggested Congressional legislation to reduce gun violence, the first major response to the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. It includes banning assault weapons and certain types of ammunition, along with better background checks, as well as some measures to address mental health.
Meanwhile, at the state level, lawmakers are taking a look at some of the tax breaks they dole out to gun manufacturers. As Bloomberg News noted, states have handed out $49 million over the last five years in tax breaks to companies that make guns:
Governments in nine states have awarded at least $49 million in subsidies in the past five years to gun and ammunition makers whose products are under scrutiny after last month’s school shooting in Connecticut.
Almost 85 percent of those tax breaks or grants have gone to two companies: Olin Corp. (OLN), the Clayton, Missouri-based maker of Winchester-brand bullets and shotgun shells, and a unit of Freedom Group Inc., the Madison, North Carolina-based company that produces the rifle used in the Dec. 14 killing of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
The ostensible goal of these subsidies is job creation, but handing out tax breaks to create jobs is simply not a viable job creation strategy, which has been shown time and time again. “We need to be a lot more careful and decide what kind of state we envision,” said Florida state Senator Nancy Deter (R) adding that “she doesn’t want Florida to be known for gun manufacturing.” New York state Sen. Liz Krueger (D) has called for her state to drop subsidies for gun manufacturing as well.
Gun safety measures, in addition to preventing human tragedy, also provide economic benefits by cutting down on medical and public safety costs. One study found that “the average household acquiring a gun imposed a net cost on the rest of society of somewhere between $100 to $1,800 per year.”