A new law that went into effect recently in West Virginia eliminates the sales tax on all small firearms and ammunition, meaning that customers can purchase most handguns, shotguns, and rifles without any sales tax.
The law, which went into effect on July 1, was enacted after the passage of House Bill 2499 earlier this year. The bill is designed to promote business and economic growth.
“If you are going to buy that $2,000 rifle, it’s going to be $120 cheaper here in West Virginia than compared to our neighboring states,” said Delegate Gary Howell, a Republican, according to local news outlet WOWK-TV.
The law is also designed to encourage gun and ammunition manufacturing in the state by allowing tax credits for arms and ammunition makers. Ranger Scientific, an ammunition maker, said in May that the company will build an ammunition plant in Montgomery due to the tax law, providing more than 400 jobs.
“If they do a $1 million piece of equipment, we will tax it as if it’s a $50,000 piece of equipment. That’s to encourage investment in the state,” Howell told the station. “It makes West Virginia the single best place to locate arms or ammunition manufacturing plant,” he added of the law.
The law is one of many that have been enacted by state legislatures in recent months, as Republicans and gun rights groups have warned that Democrat politicians are attempting to pass legislation making it harder to purchase or own a firearm.
In nearby Virginia, five new gun-control measures went into effect on July 1. Some of the laws include a prohibition of firearms on the state’s Capitol grounds in Richmond, lengthening the amount of time the FBI can conduct a background check, and another would prohibit domestic abusers from buying, owning, or transporting a firearm for three years after they’re convicted.
Advocates of the laws said they’re necessary.
“We know these people are among the first to commit more violence, this is already a federal law,” Lori Haas with Coalition of Stop Gun Violence said, reported WHSV. “However, since we didn’t have a state law for this our police officers could not enforce it, we were an anomaly and now that has been fixed.”
David Adams, legislative director of the Virginia Shooting Sports Association, said he was most concerned with the law regarding firearms at the Capitol.
“It is absolutely possible that a responsible gun-owner could be caught in this by accident, and it will only negatively affect us—not the criminals who won’t care,” said Adams.