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Neighbor Thinks Taxing Ammo Violates Constitution

My neighbors say some nutty things. In a message to Congresswoman Kristi Noem, Ed Kohl of Madison laments taxes on ammunition:

May 26, 2011

Dear Rep. Noem,

Please support Paul's bill to protect gun rights from more infringement, infact the fact that a right is taxed seems unconstitutional. Ammo is taxed so much I can't afford to shoot targets.One might say this tax discriminates against poor folks like me. the 2nd Amendment should not have any tax on it at all !!

Thank you,Keep their feet to the fire!

Ed Kohl, Madison

I'll let my commenters dig up "Paul's bill." I'll just briefly remind Ed that ammo prices are going up largely because of market demands for metals, not taxes.

But let's focus on this concept of "taxing a right." I might actually be happy to go there with Ed. I have a right to live. I need food to live. Ed's friends in the South Dakota Legislature keep taxing food. That's discrimination, too, right, Ed?

The First Amendment gives me a right to assemble. I need gas and a car or at least shoes to go assemble. It's unconstitutional to tax those items, right, Ed?

Women have a constitutional right to obtain an abotion. South Dakota is imposing ever-increasing obligations on women seeking and doctors performing abortions that increase the cost of abortions in our state. That's discrimination against poor women as well, right, Ed?

We need not worry that Ed's exhortation to Rep. Noem will trigger any action on the issues I raise. That would require Noem to actually think about the underlying principles behind Ed's argument and their implications for consistent policy-making. And Noem never thinks that deeply.


  1. Eve Fisher 2011.05.27

    Dear Ed,
    I'll support your right to tax-free ammo (although why that should get a pass when every bite of food we eat is taxed, I don't know), if you'll support abolishing the Patriot Act. For once, I, too am in agreement with Rand Paul.

  2. Matt Groce 2011.05.27

    I have a right to the pursuit of happiness. Lots of things that make me happy are taxed... wine and golf clubs, just to name a few. Oh no, is Obama trying to take away my golf!?!

  3. Chris 2011.05.27

    I would agree with most everything you said, Cory, other than the fact that you need shoes to walk and assemble. I guess that may be true in January in South Dakota, but not in July! :)

  4. Kyle Halgerson 2011.05.27

    I can understand giving a tax breaks on some things (food & clothing, for instance), but ammo is low on my list.

    Needing ammo to defend oneself from tyranny is one thing. Needing ammo to shoot trap (i.e. for entertainment) is quite another. Get your priorities straight, people who won't see this!

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