POLITIFACT.COM November 1, 2020 – If Joe Biden is elected president, Americans who own certain kinds of guns may owe the federal government some money.
One Facebook post, published Oct. 29 by the page for a Texas-based apparel company, claims that Americans who own semi-automatic firearms or high-capacity magazines would be charged $200 per unit under the Democratic presidential candidate’s gun policy.
“Under Biden’s plan, all semi automatic firearms and 11+ round magazines will be registered under the NFA,” the post says. “Each item requires a $200 tax to register. The total above is how much you will be charged to keep firearms and accessories you already own.”
If a gun-owner doesn’t comply with the new tax, the Facebook post claims it will “make you a felon.”
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) Several other groups that support gun rights and conservative tax policies have published similar claims online.
The post includes a worksheet that gun-owners can use to purportedly figure out their tax burden under a Biden administration. It bears the logo of the Hawaii Firearms Coalition, an organization that describes itself as a 501(c)(4) organization based in Honolulu. We could not find it registered as such with the Internal Revenue Service.
As evidence, the Facebook post cites Biden’s plan to address gun violence.
“Go ahead and fact check it,” the apparel company wrote in its caption. So we did.
The Facebook post is partially accurate, but it overreaches based on what is known about the Biden campaign’s gun policy.
Biden has not called for a new tax on firearms. He opposes easy access to assault weapons and would ban their manufacture and sale. Existing weapons would be subject to new regulations.
He has proposed applying an existing federal law on machine guns to assault weapons — which can include semi-automatic firearms — and high-capacity magazines. That existing law includes a $200 tax.
Under Biden’s gun policy, Americans who own assault weapons or high-capacity magazines would have two options: sell them to the federal government through a voluntary buyback program or register them under the National Firearms Act.
The National Firearms Act (NFA) passed in 1934. The law imposed a tax on those who manufactured or traded firearms defined in the act, specifically short-barreled rifles and machine guns. It required owners of certain kinds of guns to register them with the Treasury secretary.
“Its underlying purpose was to curtail, if not prohibit, transactions in NFA firearms,” the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says on its website. “Congress found these firearms to pose a significant crime problem because of their frequent use in crime.” [full article]