Amid the rush to gun control in the months following last year’s tragedy at Sandy Hook, legislatures across America returned to session this year intent on pushing stringent gun control bills.  This we know just by opening the newspaper each day.  What you may not know, however, is that amongst all the idealogical hype surrounding such gun bills, is a dire fiscal impact to everyday taxpayers.

Take for example Assemblyman Anthony Rendon’s AB711 which bans lead ammunition.  Peel away the ideological veneer and you will find a core revenue and funding bill.   The concern taxpayers and government bureaucrats alike share is that when a bucket of revenue is taken away, there will be a push to find new money to replace it. 

This year, we have more than a few bills cloaked in ideology yet significantly impacting state coffers.  At first glance, the following bills seem to be merely benign ideological stances, but a more in-depth look gives you their actual cost from a fiscal perspective:

AB 711: The “Lead Ban” Bill

AB 711 is a particularly onerous piece of legislation that seeks to ban the use of lead in traditional ammunition. The rationale for this, so say the author and bill proponents, is that wildlife, particularly the California Condor, may be ingesting lead fragments from bullets left in the wild (never mind that traditional lead ammunition has been banned in Condor territory in California for years.)

A 1930s federal law ties much of California’s conservation funding to ammunition purchases – 95% of which is traditional lead.

What it costs: Millions of dollars in losses to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, which will then, of course, need to be replaced from somewhere else (aka the taxman cometh).  The idea of banning hunting is absurd, and the fiscal economic impact of banning hunting is truly astronomical. In the analysis of AB 711 by the Governor’s Department of Finance, it was estimated that there would be approximately $9 million in decreased revenues to the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), nearly a $14 million decrease per year in Wildlife Restoration grants from the Federal government (which is based off of ammunition sales), and a cost of up to $11 million each year for the DFW to establish a process to provide hunters with non-lead ammunition at a reduced or no charge.

That’s not even touching on the nearly $3.5 billion a year of economic activity that the hunting and ammunition industries provide and the millions of dollars in taxes they generate.

SB 53: The Ammunition Licensing Bill

This bill would require a separate license and background check system for anyone purchasing ammunition, all of which must be set up by the Department of Justice.

What it costs: Nearly $30 million in set up costs with almost $4.5 million in ongoing costs.

This includes millions of dollars in set up costs for the DOJ to upgrade computer systems, hire and train staff, and implement the regulations. The costs also include a decrease in annual tax revenue of $3.6 million per every 10% in decreased ammunition sales. No realistic economic model projecting ammunition purchases (especially if the lead ban is in effect) is credible unless it assumes a significant decrease in purchases due to the new regulation.  If the market responded with a 30% decrease in sales, which is completely reasonable, the decreased revenue to the state would total in excess of $10.8 million.

SB 475: Ban Gun Shows at the Cow Palace

Senator Mark Leno has introduced a bill to ban gun shows at the Cow Palace without prior approval from both the San Francisco and San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. His reasoning is that the surrounding neighborhood has experienced high gun crimes so it’s insensitive to have a gun show there.

What it costs: At least $150,000-$180,000 in tax revenues and much more in loss to local business.

The Governor’s Department of Finance issued an analysis of the bill that firmly criticized the bill’s effects. Gun shows at the Cow Palace generate anywhere from $150,000 to $180,000 a year in tax revenue which will disappear if this bill passes. They also opposed the bill for establishing a contradictory precedent as to how localities are treated in regards to event approvals since the bill only deals with the Cow Palace and not all state owned properties.

Furthermore, this bill is even opposed by the California Police Chiefs who argue that outlawing Northern California’s largest and most well-regulated gun shows will simply force some purchasers to Nevada or the so-called “gray” market.

It all comes down to dollars and cents.  Even if you aren’t a hunter, sport shooter, collector or gun owner – but just a concerned taxpayer, these pieces of legislation will cost you and California a pretty penny.