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Creative Tax Legislation as a Way to Improve America's Public Safety, Gun Safety and Create Funds to Invest in Improving Mental Health Care

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 2/10/2015 Dennis Santiago

When old ways stop working, it's time to explore new ones.
On October 1, 2015 following another active shooter incident in Oregon, President Obama called for legislation and politics. Something to break the status quo that has made what should be rare incidents "routine". So what kind of gun legislation might work? What's something new? Something that isn't a placebo? Something that isn't a lobbyist's fundraising storyline? Something that isn't Orwellian propaganda? Try this.
I'm becoming less and less able to swallow the notion that disarming America does anything more than make us easy meat for the killing. But how do we turn things around? How to we make America safer? How do we ensure guns are used to gain actual improvements in crime reduction? How to we create the money needed to invest in better preventive mental health care? So I thought a little out of the box and it came to me. It's time to use the tax system against those who's elitist policies are exposing us to excessive danger. The free loaders who want all the benefits of a utopian society but won't lift a finger to help; or worse, belittle those who are so lowly and common to try to look out for themselves.
There should be a law! It's the cry of the day. And so lets try a little mental exercise shall we?
Let's say we respect the Second Amendment. This is a fair enough universal assumption as both the National Rifle Association and Moms Demand Action both say they do. Let's further say we want guns in good, well trained hands in America. And let's say we want to gain control over criminal elements that impede our pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. Let's add to this that we want to finally do something to invest in actually having the means to take proper care of our at-risk mentally ill. Well and good. All noble goals.
What if we legislated a tax that charged those who refuse to be part of the common defense a fee to opt out of being part of the working defense of the nation's domestic tranquility. So people could pay a fee to opt out, freeload and enjoy the best of life in America by paying for the movie ticket.
How about we use that tax to fund national training programs for gun owners so that they will be more effective CCW permit holders? Let's say forty-five percent (45%) of that tax base goes to it. We would quickly have a county as skilled and prepared as the Swiss. To ease the transition from the society model we now have where citizens are wards - some would say inmates in a prison with no walls - we allocate five percent (5%) of these taxes will go to training programs to teach law enforcement to work in better partnership with a population of armed citizens.
Both of these fund pools would be allocated to state and local programs on needs basis; basically, the training monies to where there are gun owning populations. To ensure these benefits are nationwide, accompany laws enshrining national CCW reciprocity would quickly spread the benefits of such a process to even the most anti-gun communities.
And here's the kicker. To reinvigorate our dismal mental health system, 50% of the taxes base collected under such a law would go to fund mental health programs and facilities to improve the nation's care for at risk mentally ill persons. This a badly need by the nation and we have a dismal record at filling this social good need. This type of tax would finally force our hand to be the helping hand it needed to be all along.
The tax could also be used to encourage more people to participate in active community safety instead of buying it via using a tax deduction or exemption. To qualify for the tax exemption a person would have to attest that they are a gun owner and provide a form of evidence that they currently practice with their firearm as hunters, competitors or CCW holders. This attestation mandates the creation of a public/private confidentially verified firearms qualifications database that will augment and improve NICS. Presto, you have your improved level of gun training and de facto register of qualified gun owners; and it's a net economic positive recognition of public good value and essentiality for gun owners instead of a vindictive repudiation of their very valid contributions to public safety that elitists seem to need to make them feel better about themselves.
The above is a national tax concept best implemented in the tax code as a federal income tax buried within the tax tables. The discounting on the tax would be structured as an exemption. States could do something similar probably using a state income tax approach. The scheme does not make sense to use sales, use or property taxes because these would not necessarily reach the non-gun owners who should be paying for the benefits being created through the efforts of others.
Roll this around in your head. It's thinking outside the box to be sure but at this point with Columbine repetitions becoming regular coverage in the news cycles, perhaps it's time to be thinking outside the box. We all need to be part of a new solution set. If the problem is this big - and I believe it is - we need to invest. It makes lots of sense to consider a purpose dedicated tax to enable the system to improve. It seems to me that those who refuse lower themselves to the level of commoners to help keep America peaceful and safe should be paying for this public good in their tax bills. It certainly seems a topic worthy of consideration by Congress and the White House.

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