‘Ax the tax’ on Kansas guns? It’s a terrible idea that wouldn’t make anyone safer | Opinion

Of all the problems and challenges facing the state of Kansas, here’s one that’s probably the absolute lowest on my list: Guns are too expensive.

Maybe. I don’t know. I haven’t purchased a gun myself. I’m not much of a fan.

As I’ve said before: Guns ruin everything. They kill people and other living things. That is, in fact, pretty much what they’re designed to do.

So if guns are just a little bit too expensive — if Kansans have to feel a little bit more economic pain to quote-unquote “exercise their Second Amendment rights” — well, that’s not really a problem. Anything that slows the massive accumulation of private arsenals in this country is fine by me.

But some folks in Kansas do think that guns are too expensive, and that it’s a problem.

That’s why state Sen. J.R. Claeys, a Salina Republican, used this week’s special session of the Kansas Legislature to quickly introduce a bill that went nowhere, for now: It would eliminate the state sales tax on guns.

Not just guns, though.

The bill would also “ax the tax” for ammunition — and for firearms accessories, “including, but not limited to, telescopic or laser sights, magazines, flash or sound suppressors, collapsible or adjustable stocks and grips, pistol grips, thumbhole stocks, speedloaders, ammunition carriers and lights for target illumination.”

Just about everything you’d need to outfit your local militia, in other words.

To be fair, the bill would also eliminate the sales tax for gun safes and somewhat more vaguely defined “firearms safety devices.” So that’s good, I guess.

The Kansas State Rifle Association praised the bill. “Reducing the tax burden to purchase a firearm from a dealer for personal protection, ammunition to practice regularly, and storage devices for times when a firearm is not in use makes all of us safer,” the group said in a social media post.

I’m not so sure that’s true.

Little comparison between firearms, food

There’s an old saying, sometimes attributed to Ronald Reagan: “If you want less of something, tax it.” Makes sense.

Which suggests the inverse is also true: If you want more of something, stop taxing it.

So a policy to stop taxing guns is a policy designed to produce more gun ownership. Again, that’s not actually a good thing. An extensive body of research shows that — as one Harvard overview put it — “where there are more guns there is more homicide.”

That doesn’t make us all safer.

Here’s the fun part. The KSRA made the case for Claeys’ bill by pointing to Gov. Laura Kelly’s “ax the tax” effort to eliminate grocery taxes.

“Kansas is in the process of phasing out the sales tax on food,” the group said in its social media post. “A number of other items such as farm machinery and prescription drugs are already exempt. This bill was introduced to exempt firearms, ammunition, and accessories in the same way.”

The comparison is laughable.

Here’s the thing: Food is a necessity of life. (And heck, farming equipment makes the food.) Prescription drugs? They might be a close second.

You don’t need guns to live, though.

The opposite is usually true, in fact. If you live in a home with a gun, you’re more likely to die at the end of that gun.

The special session came and went in a day, before the Legislature had a chance to act on Claeys’ bill. But we’ll be seeing it again in the future — KSRA said the effort serves “as a starting place for discussions” when lawmakers meet again in 2025.

Let’s hope it’s a short conversation. We’d be better off putting that energy into reducing gun violence — not “axing the tax” for tools of mass misery.