Liberal state and local lawmakers from New York to California are running out of options to restrict gun rights. They've now hatched plans to reduce the number of firearms by taxing them out of existence.
But is it constitutional?
These actions are being taken in response the Supreme Court's 6-3 decision last year in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen. It held that the public does not have to exhibit a special "need" to be granted a concealed carry permit.
Just as the 2008 case of District of Columbia v. Heller reaffirmed Americans' right to "keep" arms in common use, the Bruen decision reaffirmed our right to "bear" arms.
Santa Monica is the latest California city attempting to deny concealed carry permits by making them prohibitively expensive with excessive "administrative" fees.
Last week the city council unanimously approved a $617 fee, plus $150 for a psychological exam, for residents to obtain concealed carry permits.
Before the council even held its vote the California Rifle & Pistol Association, acting through its lawyer, put the city on notice.
"Charging $767 (not including the training course) for the exercise of a constitutional right is not acceptable," Konstadinos Moros, an attorney representing the group, warned the Council shortly before its vote.
"By charging such outlandish fees, the City is punishing the very people who are law-abiding and respectful of the process," Moros continued.
"You are encouraging them to give up and, if they still must carry for their own safety, to do so illegally."
Moros attached a copy of a letter he'd sent earlier to La Verne, another city in Los Angeles County, threatening a lawsuit over its own exorbitant fee schedule.
Late last month LaVerne approved a $398 processing fee, $150 administration fee, and a $93 licensing fee. Like Santa Monica. it also applies a $150 psychological exam fee, a $250 firearms training fee, and a $20 fingerprinting fee. Once everything is approved, they charge you $20 to print the license.
Total bill: $1,081. And to add insult to injury, California concealed carry permits are only good for two years. The renewal fee is $647.
The lawyer's letter to each city emphasized the unconstitutionality of the fee structure. But statements made to the council by local residents revealed the true victims of the fees: the single parent trying desperately to make ends meet in a Biden economy.
"The fees are unconstitutional," said Keith Reeves to the La Verne City Council. "They disenfranchise those who need it the most."
Another resident, Agatha Juarez, said she was "absolutely floored by the fees."
The attorney also addressed this issue.
"It could be a single mom or someone who doesn't have $1,000 to spend and feels endangered, they may just end up carrying illegally," Moros said. "They may try to apply and see the price and be dissuaded."
And those very residents, living in dicey neighborhoods with weak security, are often the most targeted by criminals.
Both Santa Monica and La Verne tried to justify their fee structure by claiming it represented the amount of work it takes to process the applications. Strange that other jurisdictions can do it for about one-tenth of the cost.
In New York, however, no such attempt was made to justify a proposed state ammo tax, prompting a word of gratitude from writer-editor Cam Edwards.
"Thank you very much to New York Assembly member Pat Fahy for saying the quiet part out loud when talking about her proposed tax on ammunition," said Edwards, editor at Bearing Arms, a digital Second Amendment news and opinion site.
He added that "rarely are lawmakers so explicit in their intention to tax people out of a right."
The Albany Democrat proposes a 2-to-5-cent tax on each round, saying, "if you buy 50 rounds, it'll be just a couple of extra dollars ... So, it's not a huge tax, but another disincentive to arming up." (emphasis added)
Forget about guns — take them out of the equation. What if the government were to charge a fee for exercising another constitutional right? What if you were charged for exercising your Sixth Amendment right to counsel as a defendant in a criminal trial?
And the government could justify the expense. It could legitimately say it would cost them more to prosecute you if you don't hire a lawyer.
That would be silly, right? — just as silly as levying a tax for exercising your First Amendment rights to speak freely, to practice your religion, to demonstrate peacefully or to petition your government for grievances.
Exercising your Second Amendment rights should be no different. And to the young mom protecting her children, it may mean the difference between life and death.
Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to Newsmax. He is also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter. Read Michael Dorstewitz's Reports — More Here.
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