SACRAMENTO, CA and WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 24, 2019) — Today, Firearms Policy Coalition announced the filing of an important joint amicus brief with the Cato Institute at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals case in a man’s appeal from a conviction under a federal tax law relating to “machineguns”. The brief can be found at https://www.firearmspolicy.org/legal and https://www.cato.org/blog/case-intersection-taxing-power-second-amendment.

“Several years ago, Nick Bronsozian was charged with possession of an unregistered machinegun under a tax law statute. The provision in question, 26 U.S.C. § 5861(d), says that in order to have a machinegun registered, a tax must be paid on it,” explained amicus brief authors Ilya Shaprio and Matthew Larosiere at Cato’s eponymous Cato at Liberty blog, “[The Defendant-Appellant Mr.] Bronsozian didn’t pay his tax. Case closed. That’s what the government argued anyway, but the situation is more complicated than that.”

“A subsequently enacted law, 18 U.S.C. § 922(o), prevents the government from registering and accepting tax payments on new machineguns,” they continued. “So Bronsozian was charged and convicted of a felony for not paying a tax that the government would not allow him to pay. If that strikes you as odd, it’s probably because you’ve read the Constitution.”

Cato, joined by Firearms Policy Coalition, has filed an amicus brief:

“We argue that, as the Supreme Court has repeatedly found, that a tax must be a tax. For a government of enumerated powers to function, those powers must be clearly defined. The fact that a case involves guns—even unpopular guns—is not a reason to smudge the taxing power into a grant to do whatever the government wants.”

“The Constitution established a government with powers that are few and defined. The taxing power gives the government the authority to implement taxes, not to lock people in cages for failing to pay a tax the government won’t allow them to,” said Larosiere.

“We are honored to join the Cato Institute in this important effort to ensure that the government operates within the four corners of the Constitution,” said FPC President Brandon Combs. “This case shows how outrageous our government operates on a regular basis, but we will continue working to restore the limited government that our Founders established so that individual liberty may thrive.”

Firearms Policy Coalition (www.firearmspolicy.org) is a 501(c)4 grassroots nonprofit organization. FPC’s mission is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially the fundamental, individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. 

The Cato Institute (www.cato.org) is a public policy research organization dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace. Its scholars and analysts conduct independent, nonpartisan research on a wide range of policy issues.

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