January 31, 2013

Looters Gonna Loot

Sin Tax: a form of Pigovian tax which is levied against products in order to discourage their consumption.

Gun sales prompt Colorado Democrat to push for fees bill to be heard ASAP

Under Colorado's "baby Brady" law, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation performs the background check mandated for firearms purchases from federally licensed dealers. It's a redundant check as they contact the FBI's National Instant Check System as part of their background check. The budget is limited for the CBI's background check department and as a result waits of up to 9 days for approval have been encountered by Colorado gun buyers.

So this asshat Steadman (from whom we've heard asininity before) is foaming at the mouth to impose a fee for each background check, paid by the purchaser. The backlog is over 8,000 right now, which is down from 11,000+ folks waiting to get approved a few weeks ago. Steadman is lusting after $10 a piece that he thinks should belong to the state.

In Colorado spending and taxing measures have to originate in the House, and the House sponsor of this bill is Rep. Court. However the House bill has not yet been introduced that I can see.

The articles both note that Republicans objected to the idea in the past, referring to it as a "poll tax". Now here's where state politics, and the Colorado court system, tries to be cute:

TABOR requires that any increase in taxes be subject to a popular vote. There's an exception for "fees", as opponents of TABOR argued that they didn't want to put a 25 cent late fee for library books on the ballot every few years. The TABOR proponents fell for it. So a few years back the legislature decided that the vehicle registration tax imposed every year to renew your registration and get that shiny new sticker for your license plate was actually a fee. Colorado's Supreme Court went along with it (as the court here generally have no trouble finding ways around TABOR, and some dems and judges have gone to intellectual extremes to get TABOR repealed outright).

So if this bill ever gets proposed and passed and becomes law, I can see a lot of wrangling about whether it's a "fee" or a "tax". Proponents of the law would exclaim dramatically that it's merely a fee to cover the costs of a state provided service. Folks like me would argue that, much like the vehicle registration tax, that "service" is an artificial one, imposed by law rather than by markets.

To expand on that, the law requires that a background check be performed on a firearm sale. If the law didn't require it, very few people would ask for a background check before they bought a firearm. The "service" the state provides in this instance is not one of general utility, such as providing a map of underground utility conduits when one wishes to dig on one's own property, but a service that's required by law when one wishes to engage in a constitutionally enumerated Right.

ďIn my mind this is a fiscal-policy issue about how we fund state government services,' said the Denver Democrat, who serves on the Joint Budget Committee. 'It ought not to wait on a larger package of gun safety legislation'.

'We should do it in a hurry. Every day that we debate gun issues under this Gold Dome, or every day it gets talked about in Washington, more and more people are going to try to make a purchase Ö and create more of a backlog. Thatís why Iíve spent over a week trying to shake this thing loose.Ē

Another looter, frustrated that folks are not paying tribute that'd fund the looter's whims. You can almost hear the desperation, see the foam slapping against his own jowls, as he laments that 8,000 x $10 that he's losing because the bill hasn't been passed yet.

When this bill is proposed it does stand a good chance of passing. Colorado has had government spending as well as taxation (renaming taxes "fees" aside) limited by TABOR, which has cut down on expansion and creation of government programs some legislators would like to see. They don't quite appreciate that TABOR's restraint on government finances have also kept the state in much better fiscal shape than it would have been otherwise.

In any event they will feel the pull of the firearm sales times $10 and such a bill will likely pass, especially if they want "universal" background checks which the CBI says will really put a strain on their system unless funding is increased.

And the local papers will do what they can to push public opinion towards supporting such a measure:

"That situation focused attention on the fact that gun customers donít pay for their background checks, but others, including teachers, do. "

Le sigh with a twist of lime. If a teacher has to pay for his/her own background check then why shouldn't gun buyers? Because teaching isn't a constitutionally enumerated Right. Some, notably myself, would argue that requiring a background check at all is unconstitutional. So paying a fee to be subjected to a constitutionally prohibited practice would be less cool than a burqa in a strip club.

The gun bills that Colorado Democrats (which control both chambers of the legislature as well as the governorship) are talking about haven't been introduced yet. Morse, the head of the senate is unsure when they'll be proposed, as they're still contemplating what to do.

Oh lest you think this is some calm, deliberative reflection on their constitutional duties in relation to any action regarding gun control, here's an idea of Morse's mindset and background:

"Adding guns is going to add shootings, and I'm for fewer shootings,' said Morse, a Colorado Springs Democrat and former police officer and police chief"

and...

"Obviously, the person with the most knowledge and experience and expertise in this this area is me,' Morse said."

and...

"Morse also revealed he doesn't have a concealed weapons permit, although he always carried a gun as an off-duty police officer.

'Somebody sticks a gun in my face, I'll deal with it ó maybe from a casket,' he said. 'But by the time I reach down and grab my gun, I'm going to be quite shot if not dead."

So I doubt this candidate for an "Only Ones" poster is worried about imposing upon anyone's Rights.

What I think they're doing is waiting to see what has a chance of getting done nationally. They'd simply love it if "universal" background checks were imposed by the feds, so they wouldn't have to waste political capital themselves, or spend more time with their families after the next election cycle. But the legislative session here is short, so they may run out of time and have to act themselves to get what they want.

In the meantime I won't tell you I don't feel some glee at Steadman's apparent vexation over a delay in implementing his sin tax. Cause if I did I'd be lying

Posted by Publicola at January 31, 2013 07:01 PM | TrackBack
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