New California firearms tax prompts Second Amendment lawsuit to block 'modern Jim Crow law'

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A consortium of Second Amendment advocacy groups and two residents filed suit seeking to block California’s new 11% excise tax on firearms, parts and ammunition.

The case, Jaymes v. Maduros, alleged that the Supreme Court has previously ruled that constitutional rights should not be subject to taxation, and sought to block the tax that went into effect July 1.

One of the precedents cited was Murdock v. Pennsylvania, in which the court sided with a Jehovah’s Witness who had been required to purchase a permit to evangelize door-to-door in Westmoreland County.

In that regard, the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), National Rifle Association (NRA), California Rifle & Pistol Association and the two civilians filed their complaint against California Department of Tax & Fee Administration Director Nicolas Maduros in his official capacity, citing similar protections.

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FPC President Brandon Combs called California’s tax a “modern Jim Crow law” that targets people who are disliked by those in power, such as California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“Thankfully, the Constitution forbids California’s political warfare scheme. FPC and our allies are committed to restoring the right to keep and bear arms in California and throughout the United States,” Combs said in a statement.

The complaint, filed in state court in San Diego, alleges that California seeks to “destroy the exercise of a Constitutional right by singling it out for special taxation.”

The plaintiffs further argue that, if allowed to stand, the levy means that California can tax behavior associated with any other Constitutional rights at 50% or 100% if the government doesn’t favor them.

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The filing also cites the recent New York Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen case, which targeted the Empire State’s requirements for concealed-carry permitting.

Bruen “guarantee[s] the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation,” the plaintiffs said.

In a statement, the NRA said that although the tax is formally levied on gun dealers, the amount is passed down to the consumer.

Randy Kozuch, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, said the Virginia-based association has a long history of defending the right to bear arms and challenging laws that abridge it.

“California’s firearms excise tax is a blatant and egregious attack on the rights of Californians and a calculated maneuver to dismantle the Second Amendment,” Kozuch said.

A Newsom spokesman, however, disagreed with the allegations.

“This is a modest investment in gun violence prevention programs that are proven to work,” Daniel Villaseñor told the Los Angeles Times, calling the Golden State “No. 1 for gun safety.”

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