Taxing Gun Possession in Arkansas?
By David Ferguson
Would you be upset if liberals tried to tax possession of a handgun or tried to tax the right to carry a handgun in your vehicle or concealed on your person?
There would be public outrage.
But Arkansas is ALREADY TAXING the carrying of a concealed handgun with a license!
I know some of you are already saying to yourselves – This is not an issue because Arkansas is a Constitutional Carry state and I can carry a concealed handgun without a license. Wait. It is STILL an issue because some people still apply for an Arkansas concealed carry license. Why do they do this? Three reasons:
- Some want to use the Arkansas license to carry a handgun in states that do not recognize Constitutional Carry but that recognize the Arkansas license as valid in their state.
- A few people want an Arkansas license because they want an “enhanced” carry license to carry into some areas otherwise restricted. (Warning – the “enhanced” carry license is a minefield. It has so many restrictions it can be difficult to identify areas where it allows carry and areas where it doesn’t.)
- Some want a license because the Governor and Attorney General have tried to confuse residents on what is allowed.
When I say Arkansas is collecting a concealed carry license TAX, you may be thinking –You are wrong it is only a fee. Arkansas calls it a fee, but it is applied as a TAX. There is a big difference.
A license fee is collected to cover the cost of the licensing program. That is NOT what the concealed carry “fee” does.
Any government license program incurs expenses. In the case of the concealed carry license, there is a criminal background check to be conducted and the Arkansas State Police incurs expenses for processing applications, printing and mailing licenses, sending renewal notices, etc.
The Arkansas State Police in testimony before the Arkansas legislature in 2017 admitted the concealed carry fee is not collected to offset the cost of the licensing program. A representative of the agency testified the program is not funded by the fee. Instead the fee is used as an additional revenue source to support the State Police in general. It is used to buy cars, etc. That is a TAX. The State Police said the “fee” supplemented the State Police budget to the tune of $2.9 million. That was two years ago, so how much does it bring in now?
You don’t need to take my word on the State Police testimony. I am including a link to the YouTube video at the end of this article.
The purpose of the testimony by the State Police was to stop legislation that would have added language to the concealed carry law to inform people of their right to Constitutional Carry. The agency feared this would reduce the number of people buying a license and reduce their revenue.
Recently Paul Harrell of Conduit News interviewed a citizen who had applied for a concealed carry license but canceled her application, after deciding to carry concealed without a license. Her refund came in the form of two checks in the same letter. The first check was for all but $10 of the tax. The second check was for the remaining $10. Why a separate check for $10? It was the amount that was for a background check. When the background check is $10 but you collect $142.11, that is a big TAX.
I use the amount of $142.11 because that is what is collected if you pay online. Applying online is their preferred method.
Arkansas’ concealed carry TAXES when paid online are as follows:
- New License (age 64 or younger) = $142.11
- New License (age 65 or older) = $90.61
The fee for renewing a license every five years is $62.80.
You may be thinking “How nice that senior citizens pay $51.50 less.” But this is another sign the “fee” is actually a big tax on carrying a handgun with a license.
Even the $90.61 charged to senior citizens appears to be HIGH. For example, in Arizona the cost for the same license is only $60.
Because Arkansas operates its “fee” as a TAX and because Arkansas is GREEDY and sets a high tax, some Arkansans, who want a license, apply not for an Arkansas license but for a much cheaper license in another state. The licenses offered by some other states operate like the Arkansas license and are recognized as valid in a number of states. I’ve already mentioned the fee in Arizona. Arizona offers its license to residents and non-residents. This means some Arkansas residents are getting an Arizona license which operates just like the Arkansas license and can be used in a number of states. (Note: Arizona is also a Constitutional Carry state but has a license for those who want one.)
Why would anyone who wants a concealed carry license pay $142.11 when they can get an equal license from Arizona for $60. The answer is – they just don’t know. Here is the link to the Arizona website where you may apply if you wish: Concealed Weapons and Permits | Arizona
The Arizona concealed carry permit can’t be used for the Arkansas enhanced carry permit. But then again, the Arkansas enhanced carry permit is an embarrassing and risky mess.
The operations of the Arkansas State Police should be funded by general revenues, and not rely on gun taxes. I doubt the men and women of the Arkansas State Police want to be known as the TAXMAN.
So yes, the concealed carry license fee is a TAX (a big tax). The legislation was passed by Democrats. So far, the new Republican majority in the Arkansas legislature and the Governor’s Office have let the tax stand.
It is past time to fix it.
- Quit collecting a tax! Instead set a reasonable fee to offset the cost of administering the concealed carry license.
- Prohibit use of the fee for anything other than the cost of issuing a license.
- Make sure everyone who applies for a license is informed of the right to carry without a license.
Is a politician really pro Second Amendment, if he or she turns a blind eye to the tax Arkansas is collecting on gun owners?
How can a politician campaign on being pro Second Amendment yet avoid spreading the word Act 746 of 2013 recognizes the right to carry a handgun without a permit?
“(a) A person commits the offense of carrying a weapon if he or she possesses a handgun, knife, or club on or about his or her person, in a vehicle occupied by him or her, or otherwise readily available for use with a purpose to attempt to unlawfully employ the handgun, knife, or club as a weapon against a person.”
Here is a link to the recent decision in Taft v State in which the Arkansas Court of Appeals recognized Constitutional Carry.
Here is the YouTube video of testimony by the Arkansas State Police before a committee of the Arkansas House of Representatives in which they admit how the “fee” is used. You will hear them say they use the “fee” for general operations, not for the licensing program. While you are listening think of this – this is an example of a state agency arguing against your Second Amendment rights in order to collect more TAX.
Video published by Paul Robertson