Keep Your AR-15 — Tax the Ammo

Andrew D Ellis
4 min readJun 9, 2022


There is one — AND ONLY ONE — way that a Democratic majority could dramatically reduce assault weapons violence without sixty votes.

Use the reconciliation process built into the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act to implement a tax on the manufacture, sale, transfer or gift of assault weapons ammunition at $25 per round at both the manufacturing level and at the retail sale level. Tax the ammo manufacturers and the resellers! That’s right: $25 per bullet. The tax on a box of 20 rounds would cost $1,000 (if the manufacturers pass along the tax to their resellers). The tax could be imposed with a simple majority vote that is not subject to a legislative filibuster by inserting the needed tax provisions into a reconciliation bill.

There is no procedural bar to such a provision. And, every reconciliation bill must be brought to a vote; there is a maximum of 100 hours of debate. A reconciliation bill cannot be filibustered. The ammo tax would be a revenue measure that would promote deficit reduction. For those followers of the arcane rules of the Senate, such a tax provision would satisfy the Byrd Rule that prevents the inclusion of any extraneous matters that do not help achieve the budgetary goals set out in the reconciliation instructions.

Additionally, the bill should reward whistle-blowers who report untaxed sales, transfers or gifts of assault weapons ammunition by paying them 25% of all sums collected from a person or company who or which does not pay the tax. Such a reward would also satisfy the Byrd Rule as it is designed to support the collection of revenue.

Finally, enact a voluntary buy-back program and pay a premium for every assault weapon purchased: 200% of the provable purchase price of a weapon (if the weapon was purchased before the passage of the tax). A buy-back program will reduce Federal health care costs by reducing the quantum of Federal dollars spent on non-lethal gun shot wounds and ancillary heath costs. Ergo, it can be justified as being in furtherance of deficit reduction. Notably, a buy-back program would not implicate any protected Constitution right or violate any Constitutional prohibition. There can be no Constitutional challenge to a law that simply spends money.

Andrew D Ellis