Democratic Congresswoman Robin Kelly has submitted an amendment to the Republican tax reform bill that would increase taxes on bullets for semi-automatic weapons, in a curveball attempt to re-focus national attention on gun control efforts by using the GOP’s own bill against them.
The amendment calls for taxes on shells and cartridges for semi-automatic weapons to be increased “by such a number of percentage points as is necessary to fully offset any deficits which result by reason of the preceding provisions of this Act.” In short, the amendment would offset the $1.5 trillion deficit threshold included in the GOP tax bill, a spokesperson from Kelly’s office said. The amendment would exclude “sales to law enforcement and the military”, they added.
Republicans are all but certain to kill Kelly’s amendment — but it does force them to confront their own lack of legislative response to two of America’s deadliest shootings, which occurred barely a month apart.
On October 1, 59 people were killed (including the perpetrator) in Las Vegas, Nevada when a gunman opened fire on a country music festival, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. The gunman, Steven Paddock, was able to acquire more than 30 weapons in the 12 months leading up to the tragedy, including 12 “bump stock” devices which, attached to rifles, enable semi-automatic weapons to fire at the same rate as fully automatic ones. In the wake of that incident, Kelly and a bipartisan group of Congress members introduced legislation to ban the manufacture, sale, and use of “bump stocks” and similar devices, but the measure fizzled on the House floor. Attempts by Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) in the Senate to attract GOP co-sponsors for her version of the bill also went nowhere.
Weeks later on November 5, 26 people were killed at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas when 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley opened fire on a church congregation attending Sunday sermons. The shooting was the deadliest in Texas state history. Kelley was legally restricted from buying a gun because of a domestic abuse conviction but, because of a clerical error, the charge was never entered into the background check system.
Congresswoman Kelly has long been a staunch advocate of common sense gun control. Earlier in October, she asked Congress to quickly approve the measure to ban bump stocks — legislation over which even the NRA had expressed support.
“Machine guns were outlawed for a reason,” Kelly said. “Devices that turn a firearm into machine guns should be outlawed as well.”