Newsom signs new California law that increases gun taxes to pay for better school security

A bill that strengthens California's concealed carry weapons legislation and doubles taxes on guns and ammunition was signed into law Tuesday, Sept. 26. The extra tax will be used to pay for more security at public schools and various violence prevention programs, according to officials.

The federal government already taxes the sale of guns and ammunition at either 10% or 11%, depending on the type of gun. The law, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, adds another 11% tax on top of that, making California the only state with its own tax on guns and ammunition, according to gun control advocacy group Brady.

The new law focuses on establishing a stronger vetting program for obtaining a concealed carry weapon (CCW) license, limiting the possession of firearms in certain sensitive locations and requiring more robust training and safe handling storage of firearms for those seeking a CCW license. 

The law is set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024.

Newsom said he viewed the tax as different than other general tax increases that he tends to oppose. He argued that gun violence already costs taxpayers a lot of money in health impacts and in the criminal justice system.

"I think this is a pretty modest investment in prevention and reducing those costs ultimately…The carnage, it’s too much. We can’t normalize it, we can’t accept it. This is a small price to pay," he said.

According to officials, gun violence remains a growing threat to public safety throughout the nation. In 2020, gunshot wounds became the leading cause of death for children nationwide, and in 2021, more Americans died from firearm-related injuries than any other year on record, officials said.

The bill was sponsored by both Newsom and California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

"Addressing gun violence is critical to protecting public safety; we cannot pretend that they are distinct problems," said Bonta in a statement. "In California, we won’t settle for inaction when it comes to saving lives. Senate Bill 2 will help prevent violence by ensuring that dangerous individuals may not carry concealed guns in public and prohibiting the carry of dangerous weapons in sensitive places where our children gather. With this law, we are boldly advancing California’s successful, data-driven strategy to prevent gun violence and save lives."

In 2023 so far, the United States has suffered through over 500 mass shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The Archive also noted that states with strong gun violence protections in place suffered fewer gun-related deaths.

According to officials, the new legislation will improve California's existing CCW license law by:

  • Ensuring that those permitted to carry firearms in public are "responsible and law-abiding individuals" who do not pose a danger to themselves or others.
  • Establishing a minimum age requirement of 21 years old to obtain a CCW license.
  • Implementing stronger training requirements about the proper handling, loading, unloading and storage of firearms.
  • Identifying "sensitive public places," such as playgrounds or parks, where guns may not be carried.

California has some of the lowest gun death rates in the country, ranking 43rd out of 50 states with 9 deaths for every 100,000 people, according to 2021 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.