More than two dozen House Democrats put forward legislation Friday that would slap "assault weapons" and high-capacity magazines with a 1,000% excise tax, a change that would raise the price of a $500 weapon to $5,000 in a bid to reduce access to guns across the country.
Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., and 24 other House Democrats introduced the legislation Friday. It’s the second time Democrats have put forward the idea.
Beyer and 37 Democrats proposed the same idea last year when Democrats controlled the House, but it never moved.
The text of Beyer’s new bill was not out as of the weekend, and it was unclear if any changes were made from his 2022 version. His bill from last year imposed the tax on any magazine or related device that can accept more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
The same 1,000% tax would be imposed on any "semiautomatic assault weapon," which last year’s bill defined as a semiautomatic rifle or pistol with a fixed magazine of 10 rounds or more or that have other various features.
Under that rule, a weapon that normally costs $2,000 would force customers to pay more than $20,000, a change Beyer argued last year could help "curb the epidemic of gun violence."
"Congress must take action to stem the flood of weapons of war into American communities, which have taken a terrible toll in Uvalde, Buffalo, Tulsa and too many other places," Beyer said then. "Again and again assault weapons designed for use on the battlefield have been used in mass shootings at schools, grocery stores, hospitals, churches, synagogues, malls, theaters, bars and so on."
The National Rifle Association has argued gun control advocates invented the term "assault weapon" to "deliberately confuse the public and advance the political cause of gun control." The NRA says the term "assault rifle" applies only to automatic weapons, while gun control advocates are looking to put controls on semi-automatic weapons.
Fully automatic weapons discharge rounds continuously while the trigger is pulled, and the NRA has said these weapons are used by the U.S. armed services but are not easily obtained by the public, unlike semi-automatic weapons that fire just a single round.
Beyer’s new bill was introduced a day after more than 100 Democrats told House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., they are "disappointed" that House GOP leaders haven’t moved any legislation this year to curb gun ownership in America.
"As Members of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, we call on you to schedule votes on gun violence prevention legislation as soon as possible this year," they wrote in a public letter to McCarthy.
"Gun violence is the leading cause of death of children in America since 2020. Last year, 1,686 children were killed and another 4,485 were injured by gun violence," the letter added. "Despite this preventable carnage, the House has yet to vote on even one gun violence prevention bill."