Georgia Senate OKs bill to create sales tax holiday on guns, ammo and firearm safes

Georgia State Capitol on mostly sunny day

by Ross Williams, Georgia Recorder [This article first appeared in the Georgia Recorder, republished with permission]

February 6, 2024

If you’re thinking about buying a new gun, scope, trigger lock, ammunition or gun safe, you may pay a lower price if you can wait until fall.

The Georgia Senate passed a bill Tuesday along party lines creating a tax holiday on guns and related items. The proposed holiday would last for five days, beginning on the second Friday in October. It is set to expire in June of 2029.

The bill’s sponsor, Dallas Republican Sen. Jason Anavitarte, said its intent is to encourage people to get into hunting and help control the state’s deer population. He balked at suggestions from Democrats that the tax holiday could increase gun crime.

“I think if we’re going to be concerned about the murder rate or we’re going to talk about security, then I think we all can agree that the price of supporting law enforcement, the price of public safety, is priceless,” he said. “You can’t put a cost on it in communities. So I think we’re going to continue to hear, as it relates to the Second Amendment, or even just this simple bill that promotes outdoorsmanship, the same tired, same old arguments that we’re going to hear from the other party on this as we go forward.”

Sen. Russ Goodman of Cogdell said his fellow farmers often list feral hogs and deer as top concerns, and making guns and accessories cheaper will help them defend their crops.

“If a farmer can go out there during this time period and get a night vision scope and hopefully do something about the hog problem we have in the state, or take out some of the deer that we have in the state, because I do look at our values. So being able to keep our farmers in business is a pretty important value for me.”

Democrats have largely been pushing for bills encouraging Georgians to store firearms in gun safes or other devices by creating charges for gun owners if a child obtains a gun that was stored improperly and causes harm with it. At least one Democrat-sponsored bill would create a tax credit for gun safes.

Atlanta Democratic Sen. Elena Parent, the author of one such bill, said the state should encourage the purchase of safes and other devices intended to make guns safer but does not need to act to arm more people.

“Safe Storage is the bill that we should be discussing,” she said. “And if we’re not gonna hear that bill, or even discuss it despite the widespread support from Georgians, we could at least be discussing other bills that have been filed, such as those that would provide a tax credit or a tax exemption for gun safes without adding counterproductive tax exemptions that further the rising tide of guns that are flooding our streets and killing so many people.”

Anavitarte said he uses a gun safe and encourages others to do so but will not support a mandate or anything like it.

“I don’t think that we can legislate whether somebody is educated or how they’re basically managing the firearms in the home,” he said. “I think for every individual family member, including my own family, I think there’s a level of personal responsibility in how we educate adults, how we educate our youth.”

Duluth Democratic Sen. Nabilah Islam Parkes referenced a now-defunct tax holiday on school supplies and suggested the Senate should instead consider other proposed bills waiving taxes on baby supplies and menstrual products. State lawmakers allowed the so-called back-to-school sales tax holiday to expire in 2016, with critics arguing the break from charging the levy merely shifted the timing of purchases and not the decision to buy a product.

“We’re talking about exemptions that could ease the crushing financial burden of raising children,” she said. “Think about it, essentials like baby formula and diapers, and let’s not forget the bill to eliminate the discriminatory sales tax on menstrual products for women and girls, pads and tampons, a monthly medical necessity. Today is a stark testament to where our priorities lie when we can’t muster the political will to ease the struggles of everyday Georgians but can leap into action for a sales tax holiday on guns. Where is the justice in that?”

One Republican, Sen. Colton Moore of Trenton, said the bill did not go far enough.

“I would like to amend this bill to completely exempt firearms, gun safes and accessories 365 days a year,” he said. “It’s so ironic because this piece of legislation, it only allows the exemption right before an election, which is how convenient for politicians who want to say we stand strong for our Second Amendment rights, we’re gonna give the people a little gimme right here before election season.”

The Senate did not consider Moore’s amendment.

The bill now moves to the House, where a separate GOP proposal would create a $300 tax credit for firearm purchases and in-person training that includes safe firearm handling. The bill would cap the tax credits to $5 million per year. That bill, sponsored by Augusta Republican Rep. Mark Newton, received a hearing Tuesday but no vote.

Newton said Tuesday that his bill “encourages firearm ownership and it encourages it to be done in what I would call a responsible manner.”

Deputy Editor Jill Nolin contributed to this report

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