Gadsden representative proposes tax free weekend for firearm sales

School items and severe weather supplies are sold without sales taxes once a year.

Representative Becky Nordgren from Gadsden wants to eliminate taxes on guns and ammunition one weekend a year as well.

She proposed a bill to designate the weekend before July 4 for tax-free sales of firearms.{} Nordgren said owning a firearm is a right guaranteed by the Constitution.

"Holding a firearms sales tax holiday at the anniversary of our nation's birth is the perfect way to celebrate the rights and independence that we hold close to our hearts as Americans," Nordgren said in a press release.{} She said liberal national legislators are trying to drive up the prices of firearms to make them unaffordable.

The Alabama Education Association opposes the proposed legislation, but not because it involves guns.{} There are concerns about the effect on school funding.

"The state cannot afford to give away any more tax money if we want to educate our children properly," AEA research manager Amy Marlowe said.

"We're funding schools on sales tax revenue, and when the sales tax weekends are created, it takes funding out of the school system."

AEA initially supported the tax-free weekend for school supplies as it believed it would be beneficial to schools and students, but Marlowe said after seeing data, it is not as profitable as expected.

Customers at Anniston's B&B Pawn & Jewelry were in favor of shopping tax-free.{} Manuela Goodman said it's too bad the law and tax-free weekend didn't start Tuesday, when she and her husband bought a pair of handguns.

"Oh yes, I wish it was.{} I would have saved a good bit of money.{} It's already a very expensive gun," Goodman said.

"I'm excited about it.{} I'll probably go shopping that weekend as well," she said about a potential tax-free holiday.

B&B manager Alan Mange said this is currently a good time for business, with what he called "tax season."{} Many customers come to the store to spend refund money they received after filing tax returns.

"If you get your tax money back, that's money that you've earned essentially," Mange said.

"You get it back, and people will decide they want to put it into something they can get some use out of."

He said this is also a good time of year for stores that sell furniture, appliances, and electronics.{} Those are businesses that do not primarily sell items involved in tax-free weekends, which he said are great for business.

"The Oxford Exchange for instance, everyone says on tax weekend there you can't even get in there, it's so crowded," he said.

"It turns over a lot of revenue for the businesses, puts a lot of money back in the communities, and it helps people with a lot of inventory."

Mange said Christmas also brings big sales, and the idea of a potential Christmas in July sale to coincide with a July 4 tax-free weekend could bring booming business.

Calhoun County Sheriff Larry Amerson said he supports the legislation.

"An opportunity to get a discount on your weapon and ammunition, I see as a very good thing for the community," Amerson said.

He does not anticipate criminal problems as these are legal sales with background checks.{} Amerson said it would not affect pistol permits, as someone who already owns a firearm does not need to get a new one for each gun.

The sheriff also said he does not think there would be a sudden rush for people to buy ammunition, which has been in high demand for a few years.{} Amerson said it might be hard for stores to keep supply in stock during a sales tax holiday.

"Obviously schools need the money and any reduction in their revenue [hurts], but for just a couple of days, it shouldn't make a big impact," Sheriff Amerson said.

"If people can put more money in the economy and it gets circulated around, that's a good thing as well."

Mange said customers are going to continue to make purchases throughout the year, but a tax free weekend would be a time when shoppers buy things that are normally out of their price range due to taxes.

"Sometimes the sales tax on a firearm can be the difference between a sale or no sale," Mange said.

"A no sale is no taxes to the school either, so if I miss a sale with $70 of sales tax on it, I miss the whole sale," he said.

"That could have been a $1,000 sale, but instead it's a no sale at all for anybody."

Sheriff Amerson said he does not think July 4 would be a problematic time for a sale, but reminds everyone not to celebrate Independence Day or New Year's or any other event by firing shots into the air.