Plano lawmaker wants guns tax-free on July 4

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on February 26, 2013 at 7:51 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 26 at 11:51 PM

DALLAS — Guns are already selling at record levels across the state of Texas. Nationwide, Texas ranks among the highest in firearm sales.

Now, a Plano lawmaker now hopes to make it even more enticing for Texans to become gun owners.

State Rep. Jeff Leach, a 30-year-old Republican from Plano, filed a bill to make Texas Independence Day (March 2nd) a tax-free holiday for guns and ammunition.

“Gun owners and gun manufacturers in Texas need to know that Texas stands behind them,” Rep. Leach said. 

He said he filed his bill — called the Texas Gun Ownership Reinforcement Act — in response to calls to tighten federal gun laws.

“It isn’t meant to be disrespectful,” he explained. “I understand that the gun debate is hot right now, but that doesn’t take away the fact we are guaranteed the right to keep and bear arms.”

The idea is modeled on the state’s tax-free weekend for clothes and school supplies before every school year.

The gun idea is not completely unheard of; other states have offered to skip sales taxes on firearms. South Carolina created and later abandoned such a program.

In 2009, Louisiana lawmakers passed a “Second Amendment Sales Tax Holiday” on guns and ammunition that remains in effect. The tax-free weekend costs the state nearly $600,000 a year.

It’s unclear how much money the state would lose under such a proposal, but Leach says it will likely be minimal.

“We need to be about encouraging and incentivizing lawful gun ownership in Texas, and this is what this is all about,” Leach said.

The Plano lawmaker said his bill has wide support and has picked up 25 co-authors.

Critics, however, instantly cringed at the suggestion of making it even easier for Texans to purchase firearms.

“Sane people would not be trying to put more guns on the streets,” said Peter Johnson, a long-time community activist who has spent years staging gun buy-back programs.

Johnson estimates he has helped remove 20,000 guns from Dallas’ streets over the past 30 years. The weapons are then destroyed once they’ve been turned over to police departments.

“The Texas legislator from Plano who’s responsible for this idiotic, insane, neurotic idea is in need of help,” Johnson said. “Texas cannot afford to educate its children, so the last thing Texas needs is a tax-free day!”

News 8 reached out to half a dozen gun retailers in the Dallas area. None particularly welcomed the idea, and some worried it would only create more backlash against the gun industry.

“It’s stupid,” one pawn shop owner said of the proposal. He, like many, asked for his name not to be used, fearing backlash against his store. “There’s too much in the news as it is without stirring the fire by making it a tax-free weekend.”

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