Errol Webber, a Republican candidate running for a US House seat in California, suggested that gun stores could sell Snickers to bypass a proposed 1,000 percent tax on AR-15-style weapons.
Following last month’s school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 students and two teachers dead, Representative Donald Beyer, a Virginia Democrat, proposed legislation that would impose a 1,000 percent tax on assault weapons.
Beyer explained that the bill would be able to bypass the Senate’s filibuster, the rule requiring 60 votes to pass legislation, which has stifled past gun-control attempts, via a reconciliation process that would not require any Republican votes. The bill could therefore pass with only a simple majority so long as every Democratic lawmaker supported it.
Webber, one of several Republicans running against Democratic Representative Katie Porter, suggested that if the tax were to be enacted, stores could sell a Snickers bar for the price of the gun while selling the firearm for only $1 to get around the tax. This means that the high tax would only amount to $10.
“Simple solution: Say a particular AR-15 costs $950. Then gun store owners simply need to sell a ‘fun-sized’ Snickers bar for $950. Then have the customer eat the candy at the store so they can’t request a refund And then sell the AR-15 for $1. Then charge the $10 excise tax,” he tweeted on Monday.
A similar tactic is already being used in Washington, DC, for people to purchase marijuana. In the nation’s capital, it remains illegal to sell marijuana, though possession of less than two ounces is legal for people who are at least 21 years old.
It is also legal to “transfer one once or less of marijuana” to someone who is at least 21 years old, so long as there is no payment made or other exchange of goods and services, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.
To get around laws against selling marijuana, some stores have turned to “gifting” it with the purchase of some other item such as a T-shirt. Though officials have made efforts to crack down on these businesses, the DC Council voted against a bill in April that would have imposed severe penalties on “gifting” stores, The Washington Post reported.
While this works for marijuana, Webber’s proposal wouldn’t have the same result. Breyer’s bill, as it is currently being proposed, would impose the excise tax on the manufacturer, producer or importer of certain firearms and high capacity magazines. Since the burden of the tax wouldn’t fall on the seller, Webber’s proposal to increase the cost of other items wouldn’t reduce the tax on firearms.
Beyer’s bill is intended to discourage the purchase of AR-15-style weapons, which have been used in many of the United States’ deadliest mass shootings. AR-15-style assault rifles have proven to be particularly deadly because they can fire more bullets at a faster rate than manual-style guns, and many individuals have argued there is no need for anyone to own these guns outside of the military.
“What it’s intended to do is provide another creative pathway to actually make some sensible gun control happen,” Beyer told Insider over the weekend.
The Uvalde shooting renewed calls for gun control, with supporters pushing for gun laws that would raise the minimum age to purchase guns, ban semi-automatic weapons and pass red flag laws that allow law enforcement to take guns from people believed to be a threat to themselves or others.
Most Republicans, however, have resisted new calls for gun control and have instead suggested “hardening” schools by arming teachers and limiting the number of doors.
news week reached out to Webber’s campaign for comment.
This article has been updated to reflect that Webber’s proposal wouldn’t allow gun sellers to bypass the tax.