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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gun Tax Rumors and Other Emails

Email rumors and Urban Legends are noting new, especially for pro-rights activists. At the beginning of the year emails circulated about Congressman Bobby Rush's HR45, a massive gun control bill that if enacted would put major restrictions on our right to keep and bear arms. While there was a bill introduced, it had no co-sponsors and will likely languish in committee as it has since the first time Congressman Rush introduced the bill. But that did not stop the emails from going around and numerous questions from being asked by concerned gun owners, leading NRANews.com host Cam Edwards to create a sign that said "No News on HR 45" to respond each night to the numerous "talkbacks" he would receive on the subject.

In the last few weeks, a new e-mail warning has made the rounds on the Internet, this one about “SB-2099,” a bill that would supposedly require you to report all your guns on your income tax return every April 15. I received this from some well meaning folks yesterday so I thought I would post on the subject and offer some suggestions on fact checking emails like this.

Like many rumors that circulate by email, there is a small grain of truth that is then blown completely out of proportion or in this case, a recycled email that wasn’t even correct when it was new. However, it seems plausible to the recipient given the current occupant of the White House. This new rumor has been circulating so much that NRA-ILA included a debunking of the myth in a recent Grassroots Alert.

According to that alert, the truth about S. 2099 is that it was introduced in 2000 by anti-gun Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and it would have included handguns under the National Firearms Act’s tax and registration scheme. This however has nothing to do with anyone’s individual federal income tax return.

Fortunately, S. 2099 died in committee without any action by the Senate. If a bill is not passed and signed into law by the end of the last year of the session introduced (in this case 2000 was the last year of the 106th Congress), it dies and must be reintroduced in the next congressional session.

Email rumors like these act as a distraction and cause us to lose focus on the real threats we face. I have a friend who from time to time will run emails by me before forwarding to make sure they don't contribute to the stack of unnecessary emails in other people's inbox. I gladly assist with their fact checking.

There is a good source that gun owners can use to verify whether an email is factual or just a rumor and that is the Library of Congress' legislative information system known as Thomas. You can search for legislation and read for yourself to see if a bill exists, and if it does, if it does what the email claims. One way to tell if a bill is a real threat is how many co-sponsors the bill has. If it has none, chances are there are bigger threats that we have to worry about than that particular bill.

Of course the best source as to what threats are in our path is NRA-ILA. Every week they send a Grassroots Alert that provides a wealth of information legislatively both federal and at the state level. If you don't already subscribe to the Grassroots Alert, you can click here and receive them every Friday.

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