‘Pigouvian Tax’ on Guns an Intolerable Act that Will Only Increase Violence

If economics eggheads really want to talk total societal costs, they’d best not overlook the costs of trying to coerce untold millions of armed citizens who have had it with stupid and arrogant Intolerable Acts. (Scan by NYPL / Public domain)

U.S.A. – -(Ammoland.com)-“What can we do about [the costs of ‘gun violence’?”]  Samuel D. Brunson of the Loyola University Chicago School of Law asks in a Minnesota Law Review abstract.

“I propose a Pigouvian tax on firearms,” Brunson declares.

Pig…what? More pork for the government? In a way, and not a good one.

“A Pigouvian tax, named after 1920 British economist Arthur C. Pigou, is a tax on a market transaction that creates a negative externality, or an additional cost, borne by individuals not directly involved in the transaction,” the Tax Foundation advises.

So in other words, the people who didn’t do something end up having to pay for it? Yeah, pretty much.

“Legislatures would set tax rates that roughly approximated the amount of externality that gun violence created in their jurisdiction, and would use the revenue to reimburse individuals and governments for the costs they bore from gun violence,” Brunson elaborates. “Such a tax would have little problem passing the constitutional muster, and, while it might have little behavioral impact, at least it would serve the interim purpose of making society financially whole, and requiring gun owners to bear a larger percentage of the costs of gun ownership.”

It’s interesting that he admits it won’t stop the violence and its sole purpose is to extort the innocent. And if “shall not be infringed” means anything, passing constitutional muster ought to be impossible. As for state and urban kleptocracies actually using coerced plunder for its stated intent, CARES Act coronavirus stimulus funding abuses show us the order of the Democrat day is to instead use the money for “progressive” wealth redistribution/constituent bribery scams.

Also, it’s not like we can’t see what happens when taxes reach a high enough level on widely demanded commodities. One of the examples the Tax Foundation cites for Pigouvian taxes is “tobacco taxes.” Just look at the increase in lucrative and dangerous black market criminal activity such taxes have created incentives for.

“Investigators say they expect to see more of those schemes as long as the benefits of trafficking cigarettes outweigh the risks,” NPR reports.

Brunson misses another major point, and that is in presuming that gun ownership is a one-sided negative equation. Left out of his analysis are costs society never incurs because gun ownership deterred and prevented violence from occurring in the first place. You don’t get to cite incentivized academic gun-grabbers and pretend that John Lott doesn’t exist.

That’s important because by artificially inflating the price of guns with discouraging and punitive taxes, many will be priced beyond the means of citizens of limited resources. That will make those living in the most dangerous (Democrat) areas more vulnerable to (and less able to deter) acts of violence. Will Brunson and his fellow eggheads pay for that?

As a side note, disarming minorities was one of the results racist proponents were hoping the 1879 “Army and Navy Law” would create:

“This banned the sale of all handguns except the Army Navy models, which were the most expensive. The requirement was considered to be the precursor to the ‘Saturday Night Special’ laws currently used in an attempt to remove cheap firearms from the market. The timing of this law worked in favor of the Ku Klux Klan. Its members had already armed themselves with all the cheap firearms they would need and the poor had not yet been able to save up enough to buy their own weapons.”

Brunson also left out is an inconvenient truth documented in a Department of Justice survey of prisoners that:

“An estimated 287,400 prisoners had possessed a firearm during their offense. Among these, more than half (56%) had either stolen it (6%), found it at the scene of the crime (7%), or obtained it off the street or from the underground market (43%). Most of the remainder (25%) had obtained it from a family member or friend, or as a gift. Seven percent had purchased it under their own name from a licensed firearm dealer.”

That raises another legitimate question:  How do you determine gun “ownership”?

After all, it’s both a legal and a moral term. If you stole a gun, you’re its possessor, not its owner. If you’re a “prohibited person” (and the infringement implications of that are a legitimate discussion for another time) and you obtained your gun from criminal underworld sources, again, you’re not its legal owner.

This is more than semantics or splitting hairs. It matters because the intent is to discourage gun ownership among “law-abiding” Americans since by default the law-breakers have shown that “gun control” edicts don’t stop them.

The criminals causing all the economic damages certainly won’t be the ones paying Brunson’s stupid Pigouvian tax. But that does offer another insight into the minds of the control freaks, that what they are licking their chops over here is precisely what drove American colonists to finally say “enough.”

They are intending to follow the example of those who provoked the War for Independence by imposing the Intolerable Acts:

“The colonists were questioning Parliament’s very right to tax and rule over them. The Coercive Acts were designed to be just what they came to be called by the colonists – intolerable. It was the intention of Parliament at the time of these acts to force the colonists to obey the laws and pay the taxes that they were avoiding.”

And as history has shown, everything exploded in their faces when the damn fools came for the guns.

About David Codrea:David Codrea

David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating/defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. He blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” is a regularly featured contributor to Firearms News, and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.

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Bring back tarring and feathering.

jack mac

Only the pole is required; sharpened at on end for riding.


We are still subject to taxes that support issues and agendas that goes against personal or religious beliefs simply because it was decided by a group of people and everyone pays. Organizations funded by the government, enacted by mob rule and despite individual arguments relating to moral or ethical viewpoints are not going away. Taxing the masses under the guise of reducing crime is still a hoax.


Holy Mother of God!

Which of those 4 words – “shall not be infringed” – are Leftists too damnably rock-stupid to understand? Which of those words is outside Leftists’ vocabulary? Which of those words is completely beyond Leftists’ comprehension??

How can any human beings be THAT stupid (and Leftists, Socialists, Progressives, or whatever the hell they call themselves this week, absolutely are that stupid!), yet still be out in public without a Keeper?

Last edited 2 years ago by JoeUSooner

Spot on. Great research. The truth shall keep us free…….. with a little help from an Modern Sporting Rifle.


don’t we already pay for the cost of “gun” violence? our taxes are used to pay for medical care for victims and perps, police and fire rescue, court costs, etc… so this is a moot point.


What a great suggestion, Prof Brunson. Let’s try it out first and see how it works in practice – maybe we could try it first on tenure, for example. If something qualifies as “…an additional cost, borne by individuals not directly involved in the transaction…”, tenure is close to the top of this totem pole. If it works there, maybe closed-shop union membership could another test case…

jack mac

The despotic governing using any means to disarm private citizens, and subjugate free citizens into the prohibited person underclass denied rights. These “Intolerable Acts” should not be tolerated, but are. The “damn fools” coming for guns already here taking guns.

Dogma Factor

Interesting thought what if a violence tax was created based on one’s zip code. Crime Statistics are readily available based on zip code already. What if the tax was is exponential so the most violent areas paid the highest tax to offset the additional burden placed police and fire. The tax could also include a multiplier to cover the cost of damage to public structures. Also within this multiplier would be reimbursement fund to pay for damaged to private structures caused by violent events, that way insurance rates will remain normalize for all. This sounds like a wonderful idea especially… Read more »


when the damn fools came for the guns. and there it is, once more. this puts me in mind of the eedjits, now nationally proven to be such, in Seattle decided to enact a “sintax” on all firearm and ammuniotn purchases in the City of Seattle. It wasn’t mch, but itstill rankled the target population. The ruse was to develop a fund to pay for those who needed patched back up as a result of gunfire. Their expected take in the deal was above a couple mill. The largest independent gun shop in Seattle attended the council meetings, told them… Read more »


A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms, shall Not be Infringed.”


Here, let’s see if the Professor can swallow this:

“Abortion violence is an outsized problem in the United States. Between a culture that allows for relatively unconstrained Right to Choose and a constitutional provision that ensures that pregnancy termination will continue to be relatively unchecked, it has proven virtually impossible for politicians to address the problem of Abortion violence.”

Now lets see if the Professor is willing to use the word Murder, a cardinal sin, instead of violence.

Abject Fail.


So, using this logic, progressives and leftists are going to have to pay me a negative tax due to my participation in pubic safety. I am an every day carrier here in Arizona and we can show that the fact that such a large percentage of our population carries has a direct impact on public safety. Pay up. But here is the real argument. Progressives don’t want a free society. They want a controlled and planned society. The Soviet and Chinese experiences taught leftists and progressives that the foundation of a controlled and planned society is fear. You cannot hold… Read more »