A pair of Democratic lawmakers in Congress announced they are introducing legislation to curb gun violence by increasing federal taxes on firearms and ammunition.

The bill, known as the Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities Act, is co-sponsored by Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr., D-N.J., and Danny Davis, D-Ill. It would increase the excise taxes on firearms from the current range of 10 percent to 11 percent and raise it to 20 percent. The bill would also increase the excise tax on ammunition from 11 percent to 50 percent. It would also increase the Special Occupational Tax on firearm importers, manufacturers and dealers; include assault pistols in the definition of firearms covered under the National Firearms Act; increase the transfer tax on all weapons (except antique guns) covered under the National Firearms Act (excludes most common guns) from $200 to $500 and index to inflation; and increase the transfer tax for any other weapon from $5 to $100 and index to inflation.

All government agencies would be exempted from the tax, including federal, state and local agencies, such as police departments.

"As a former mayor of one of the largest cities in New Jersey, I know how critical the issue of reducing gun violence is to our communities," said Pascrell, co-Chair of the House Law Enforcement Caucus and member of the Ways and Means Committee, in a statement last week. "All across our country, local police departments have had their budgets slashed and been forced to lay off officers, reducing their ability to protect our communities from the scourge of gun violence. It has been well over two decades since tax rates were last adjusted on firearms and ammunition, and I believe it is appropriate that we look to these taxes as a way to direct additional resources to law enforcement, background checks and gun violence research. This bill represents a major investment in the protection of our children and our communities, and reflects the long-term societal costs of gun and ammunition purchases in our country.”

The proceeds from the legislation would provide an estimated $600 million to law enforcement and gun violence prevention, including Project Safe Neighborhood grants, Community-Oriented Policing grants, Community-Based Violence Prevention Initiative grants, research into the causes and prevention of gun violence via the Center for Disease Control’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, the National Criminal History Improvement Program, the NICS Record Improvement Program, and grants to encourage schools and districts to implement comprehensive, evidence-based discipline systems to improve school climate.

The legislation has already been endorsed by the Major Cities Chiefs Association; the Violence Policy Center; the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and its national network of Million Mom March and Brady Chapters and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Council of the Great City Schools, Heeding God's Call, New Jerseyans for Safety from Gun Violence and Ceasefire NJ.

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