Representative Don Beyer, a Democrat from Virginia, on Tuesday introduced legislation that would impose a 1,000 percent excise tax on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
The bill, officially known as the Assault Weapons Excise Act, would raise the price of the AR-15-style rifle allegedly used by the shooter in last month’s mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, to $18. $700. (The gun’s manufacturer, Daniel Defense, currently lists the DDM4V7 model for $1,870 online.)
Beyer first announced plans to draft the bill on June 5 following the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. Authorities have named 18-year-old Salvador Ramos as the gunman in the massacre that left 19 children and two teachers dead. Ramos, who was killed by law enforcement officers, allegedly purchased two semi-automatic rifles – the DDM4V7 used in the shooting and a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 he did not bring – days before shooting.
The Assault Weapons Excise Act was introduced with 36 House cosponsors, all Democrats.
“Congress must take action to stem the flow of weapons of war into American communities, which has wreaked terrible havoc in Uvalde, Buffalo, Tulsa and too many other places,” Beyer said in a statement.
Beyer’s statement continued: “Again and again, assault weapons designed for use on the battlefield have been used in mass shootings in schools, grocery stores, hospitals, churches, synagogues, malls, theaters, bars, etc. As the response to Uvalde shows, even law enforcement is feeling overwhelmed.
“I have voted in the past for common sense gun safety reforms only to see them fail on the filibuster of Senate Republicans; my bill presents a pathway to circumvent that filibuster and pass If the Senate is able to agree on the legislative package currently under discussion, which would be a very positive development, my bill would give the Senate an option for new measures to combat the epidemic of gun violence.
Asked by Newsweek if Beyer had spoken to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer of New York about using reconciliation so the bill could pass the Senate by a simple majority and circumvent the filibuster, a spokesperson for Beyer said the legislation has not yet been discussed with Schumer. However, the spokesperson said he believed the bill could be included in the budget reconciliation.
It is believed that Beyer’s bill is unlikely to receive any Republican support, although 10 Republicans on Sunday signed on to proposed gun safety legislation announced by a bipartisan group of senators.
The scope of this proposal covers improving background checks for under-21s, allocating funds for mental health treatment and school safety, and grants to states to enforce red flag laws, reported the Associated Press.
Beyer said in his statement that his bill could go a long way in preventing future events like the Uvalde massacre.
“It’s critical that Congress take meaningful action to prevent gun violence, and the bill I’m proposing can break the impasse and do just that,” Beyer said.