Yesterday I attended a jam-packed meeting of the MOMs
group and listened to speakers who delivered moving testimonies about how their
lives were affected by the violence caused by guns. Along with those presentations, the Chapter
leader also spoke about achievements of the past year as well as what lies
ahead. And this part of the meeting was quite upbeat, particularly when the
audience was reminded about the new #gunsense majority which now controls the
But before my friends in Gun-control Nation decide that
the tide has finally turned, I think they need to step back a bit and consider
the possibility that their new-found success might turn out to be less than
what it appears. I’m not saying that because I want my gun-control friends to
fail. To the contrary, we must find a way to stop suffering from behaviors
which result in more than 125,000 deaths and serious injuries every year. We must. But it’s not going to happen until
and unless Gun-control Nation truly understands what they are up against, and
I’m not sure they do.
Ask the average gun-sense advocate why it’s so
difficult to pass laws whose purpose is to control gun violence while still
allowing Americans to own guns, and the answer you’ll get every time is one
variation or another on those ‘bad people’ who run the NRA. I heard this again and again at the MOMS meeting and I see it
on every #gunsense website – among Gun-control Nation it is simply assumed
without question that the NRA is the
‘enemy’ and that the NRA’s power and
financial influence needs to be stopped or at least curtailed.
There’s only one little problem. The NRA operates very much like the AAA; the latter provides services for
people who own cars, the former provides services for people who own guns. You
might think the NRA spends its time
and money lambasting tree-huggers and gun-control liberals in the public
square, but a quick glance at how the boys in Fairfax spend their money shows
this not to be true. For every buck the NRA dishes out to its legislative
allies in Congress, it spends two bucks on the care and feeding of its own
close to $200 million a year.
The NRA claims
around 5 million dues-paying members, maybe they do, maybe they don’t. But the
organization’s real strength is that they speak not just for their membership,
but for everyone who owns a gun. Yea, yea, I know the gun-control groups claim
to be enrolling all those ‘reasonable’ gun owners to support their ‘sensible’
demands. I also claim to have stayed on
my diet during the Super Bowl.
Want to know what’s really going on in Gun-nut Nation? Take a look at NICS-FBI background check numbers which have just been compiled for 2018. I not only looked at those numbers but I compared 2018 to every year back to 2001, and this is what I found. In 2001, the number of new and used guns that were transferred across the counter of guns shops was 7.1 million, in 2018 it was 11.5 million, an increase of more than 50 percent. How much has the U.S. population increased over that same period of time? 16 percent. Here’s a little graph which shows the per-capita trend of background checks over the last twenty years:
The great jump occurred in 2013, the year after Sandy
Hook, when Obama tried, without success, to push through a gun-control bill.
And while the background check numbers have fallen off over the last several
years, they are still running nearly 60% higher than during the mid-years of
Bush #43. And remember who’s sitting in the Oval Office – the gun owner’s best
My friends in Gun-control Nation are certainly entitled to celebrate their growing effectiveness and strength; I saw it first-hand at the meeting of MOMS. But don’t forget – there are still plenty of Americans who believe in the importance and value of their guns.
The American Revolution was sparked in part by unjust taxation. After all, the colonists in Boston rebelled against Britain for imposing “taxation without representation,” and summarily tossed English tea into the harbor in protest in 1773.
Nowadays Americans collectively spend more than 6 billion hours each year filling out tax forms, keeping records, and learning new tax rules according to the Office of Management and Budget. Complying with the byzantine U.S. tax code is estimated to cost the American economy hundreds of billions of dollars annually – time and money that could otherwise be used for more productive activities like entrepreneurship and investment, or just more family and leisure time.
The majority of these six billion hours sacrificed by Americans to Washington each year goes to complying with a tax that didn’t even exist until 100 years ago – the federal income tax.
Worse still, this tax has become a political weapon for Washington to incentivize certain activities (home ownership, charitable giving, etc.) and to punish others. It’s a tax that follows Americans wherever they go in the world, and it’s one that was originally sold to the American people by President Woodrow Wilson as a means of “soaking the rich” during the so-called Gilded Age.
How did a country that was founded on the concept of limited government come to embrace such a draconian policy? And what does it say about Washington that tax reform has become synonymous with class warfare and corporate lobbyists?
Read on to learn the history of the 16th Amendment – which authorized the federal collection of an income tax – and how that power has ultimately meant the growth of Washington at the expense of just about everyone else.
Could you imagine a time in the U.S. when roads were being paved, there was zero national debt, and the federal government was completely operational – all without income taxes? This may sound like a Libertarian fantasy, but it’s actually an image of the America of yesteryear. Before the advent of the income tax, the U.S. government relied exclusively on tariffs and user fees to finance operations.
Unsurprisingly, operations were much smaller compared with today’s extravagant government programs like welfare, social security, and subsidies. But even though spending was more conservative during the Republic’s early years, certain political events motivated the government to consider more direct ways of reaching into the pockets of its citizens.
One of these political events was the War of 1812. This war may have inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner” as he famously watched the rockets red glare over Fort McHenry, but it was also straining our fiscal resources and the war effort needed to be financed.
Enter the idea of a progressive income tax – based on the British Tax Act of 1798 (which should have been our first warning). Fortunately for the time, the War of 1812 came to a close in 1815, and the discussion of enacting an income tax was tabled for the next few decades.
Ever so stubborn, progressive individuals were hell-bent on enacting income taxes, and they eventually found a way to do this at a local and state level. In time, they would reignite a new movement for the adoption of the federal income tax.
State Versions of the Income Tax
With state governments increasingly embarking on public infrastructure projects and introducing compulsory public education, the money for these programs had to come from somewhere. For the income tax advocates whose hopes were dashed during the War of 1812, state income taxes served as a consolation prize. In turn, income tax supporters immediately got to work and started to chip away at state legislatures.
In the mid-19th century, the fruits of the income tax crowd’s labor began to pay off as several states got the ball rolling. Some of these states included:
Pennsylvania: 1840 to 1871
Maryland: 1841 to 1850
Alabama: 1843 to 1884
Virginia: 1843 to 1926 (later replaced with a modern individual income tax)
Florida: 1845 to 1855
North Carolina: 1849 to 1921 (later replaced with a modern individual income tax)
Slow but sure, income taxes started to make their way from one state legislature to the next. But once the 1860s arrived, income taxes got a tremendous push from one of the most destructive and pivotal events in U.S. history.
Did the income tax supporters finally get their wish?
The Civil War’s Boost for a Federal Income Tax
To say the U.S. was divided during the 1860s would be an understatement.
Ripped apart at the seams by a bloody Civil War (1861-1865), the Union government was desperate for funds to finance its ambitious quest to restore order to the beleaguered nation. Like the War of 1812, proposals for income tax were on the menu. Unlike the preceding war period, however, the U.S. was able to successfully enact an income tax.
Abraham Lincoln signed the Revenue Act of 1861 as a means to finance the expensive war effort. This was followed up with other measures like the Revenue Act of 1862 and Revenue Act of 1864, which created the nation’s first progressive income tax system and the precursor to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
What seemed like a monumental victory for income tax supporters who hoped for a long-lasting income tax system would vanish into the ether once the Civil War ended. No longer needing a massive army to put down rebels and stitch the country back together, the U.S. government let Civil War era income taxes expire once Reconstruction was in full swing. The pro-income tax crowd would have to reassess its tactics and look at other avenues for political change.The American People Push Back
How did the U.S. government go from embracing massive government expansions during the Civil War to later reverting back to its Constitutional roots of limited government during the next decade? Was it benevolent politicians who, in an act of political kindness, decided to hit the reset button and give Americans their cherished rights back? Or was there something else at play?
Upon further inspection, there is reason to believe that taxes in the 19th century tended to be temporary in nature given the American people’s ideological propensities. Most people were still skeptical of government overreach, especially during the Civil War – a time where habeas corpus was suspended, and the first income tax was implemented. Shell-shocked from a horrific experience that laid waste to countless urban centers and left hundreds of thousands of Americans dead, the American populace wanted a return to normalcy. And that meant scaling back government as much as possible.
Even Henry Ward Beecher, the brother of the famous author Harriet Beecher Stowe, was skeptical of the Radical Republicans’ zealous plans to grow government during the Reconstruction period. Historian Tom Woods in The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History exposed Beecher’s thoughts on the matter:
“The federal government is unfit to exercise minor police and local government, and will inevitably blunder when it attempts it…To oblige the central authority to govern half the territory of the Union by federal civil officers and by the army, is a policy not only uncongenial to our ideas and principles, but pre-eminently dangerous to the spirit of our government.”
Many Americans would agree with Stowe’s assessment – above all, members of Congress who sought to reassert Congressional dominance throughout the rest of the 19th century. But with the arrival of the Progressive Era, the rules of the political game began to change. Soon, ideas of expansive government, which were routinely scoffed at by intellectuals, politicians, and the American population at large throughout the first half of the 19th century, made a fierce comeback during the latter half of the 19th century.
This time around, these ideas began to have considerable staying power.
The Income Tax: A Child of the Progressive Era
Decades of legislative pressure and constant hand-wringing finally began to pay off for income tax supporters.The arrival of the Progressive Era was like Christmas for political figures in favor of an activist state. This was a time when reformers actively pushed for an energetic government to solve all of society’s ills, most notably poverty and income inequality.
Although they were shut out from the federal government throughout the Gilded Age, Progressives focused their attention on local and state races. Additionally, academia became more receptive to the technocratic message of Progressivism, as numerous academics like John Dewey gained prominence during this period and made progressive ideas popular in the Ivory Tower circles.
Many will scoff and think that Ivory Tower ideas have no impact in changing, that these ideas are simply too dense and inaccessible to the masses. However, free market economists like Nobel laureate F.A. Hayek understood the indispensable role ideas play in politics. In his work, The Intellectuals and Socialism, Hayek argued that when certain ideas promoting activist government become prominent among the academia and general culture, they eventually consume the political class whole.
The idea of an income tax would have been laughed out the venue in previous decades. But in the 1890s, it was all the rage at universities throughout the U.S. Soon, political winds started to blow in a more favorable direction.
For a brief moment, Progressives got their wish when the Congress introduced an income tax during the mid-1890s. The Wilson-Gorman Tariff Act, which had an income tax provision attached to it, gained the ire of then President Grover Cleveland for its last-minute amendments. Nevertheless, the Wilson-Gorman Act became law without Cleveland’s signature. The Supreme Court would later strike down the income tax provisions of the Wilson-Gorman Act in 1895’s Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan Trust Co. case.
The Supreme Court’s rejection of the income tax was no trivial failure. It was the first step in starting the conversation on the need for an income tax. Progressives now smelled blood in the water and would come back with a vengeance in less than two decades.
Enter the Wilson Presidency
Not letting the temporary setback of the Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan Trust Co. deter their activism, Progressives continued plowing ahead and making their ideas more palatable to the political class and the masses. Progressivism reached its zenith during the administration of Woodrow Wilson, when progressive reformers finally got their wish as the 16th Amendment was ratified in 1913. This ratification settled any constitutional questions about the legality of this controversial tax. It started out as a relatively limited tax, with individuals making below $20,000 paying a rate of one percent, and the rich – those making making more than $500,000 – paying a seven-percent tax.
Supporters of the income tax sold it as a tax that would only target the filthy rich. But as history has shown, government encroachments have a tendency of growing over time. In 1917, the lowest tax bracket paid two percent, although the highest income earners saw their taxes skyrocket to 67 percent.
At the time, politicians reassured their constituents that those rates would not be permanent and they would eventually be scaled back. Little did taxpayers know what the 1930s and 1940s had in store for them.
The Income Tax: A Normal Part of Public Policy
Since its ratification, the income tax has been a calling card for politicians keen on growing the size of the State. By soaking the rich and redistributing their wealth, politicians can claim to be champions of the common man, all while consolidating their power in D.C. However, economic realities and political backlash have constrained politicians’ abilities to indefinitely raise taxes.
Power-hungry politicians needed a little bit of outside help to make their wildest fantasies become reality. That help usually comes in the form of political crisis, which politicians exploited in its fullest.
The New Deal was the first era that witnessed income taxes rise at astronomical rates. On the eve of the 1929 stock market crash, the highest income earners paid a marginal tax rate of 25 percent. But once the Great Depression was well underway in the mid-1930s, the top tax bracket was paying 63 percent, and the United States’ entrance into World War II catapulted these rates toward 94 percent.
Certain political practices, such as the abandonment of the use of war bonds – debt securities the government issued to finance war efforts – changed certain political realities for the political class. The discontinued use of war bonds made using the income tax and deficit spending a necessity. This was the result of the populace starting to grow skeptical of military action abroad. With war bonds out of the picture, the U.S. relied more on income taxation and central banking to finance military actions and domestic programs after World War II.
Like an annoying chore, the income tax soon became a part of the average American’s life, whether they liked it or not. For some Americans, the rabbit hole of inconveniences and frustration goes even deeper.
Extraterritorial Taxation: The Income Tax’s Worst Kept Secret
Living in foreign lands is one of the most tantalizing experiences for people all over the globe. And after decades of hard work and meticulous saving, many Americans dream of living abroad.
Often times, unsavory political situations like economic collapses, heavy taxation, and even war compel people to search for greener pastures. For many, settling in new lands is a form of wiping the slate clean – disassociating with a tyrannical homeland and starting a new life in a land of opportunities.
But for Americans abroad, the U.S. government still finds a way of sneaking back into their lives. Like an unwanted guest, the income tax has latches on to Americans and follows them all the way to their new place of residency. Thinking that their foreign villa by the beach is a refuge from potential U.S. government meddling, many Americans are caught by surprise when the tax bill comes at their U.S. embassy.
A particularly unique feature of America’s income tax system is its power to tax extraterritorial income. In other words, Americans living abroad are subject to a worldwide tax on their income. One caveat is that American taxpayers enjoy a foreign earned income exclusion that reduces their overall tax burden. As of 2018, the maximum exclusion for taxpayers is $103,900. Nevertheless, the U.S. and Eritrea are unique in their extraterritorial taxation models. Eritrea, however, taxes its citizens living overseas at a flat rate of two percent.
The extraterritorial nature of U.S. taxes has not been without its fair share of legal controversies. George Cook, an American living in Mexico for 20 years, was perturbed by the fact that he had to pay an income tax on his foreign earnings despite no longer having ties with his country of origin. George’s dispute eventually made its way to the Supreme Court in 1924, and the issue was resolved in the Supreme Court case Cook v. Tait.
The Supreme Court ended up ruling that international taxation of foreign income was constitutional because the U.S. government “benefits its citizens and their property” wherever they live. In essence, Americans are double taxed – they must pay both the taxes in their new country of residence and American income taxes.
Still not satisfied, D.C. has made sure to extend its international taxation reach by passing the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) in 2010. FATCA essentially turns banks and financial institutions into de facto enforcement branches of the IRS.
Although FATCA is an American law, foreign countries must comply with its ordinances. FATCA initially requires that all foreign financial institutions register with the IRS. In the case that foreign financial institutions don’t follow through with FATCA standards, the U.S. government can levy a withholding tax of 30 percent on the foreign bank’s earnings.
The Sneakiness of Income Tax Withholding
One of the sneakiest aspects of the income tax is the practice of withholding. Instead of paying a lump sum on April 15th, most taxpayers have their income taxes deducted from their paycheck. Their employer essentially becomes an unpaid tax collector that gradually extracts their income in relative silence.
Come Tax Day, many Americans receive money back after paying excess taxes all year, so they’re left feeling like they’ve been given the gift of free money. Sounds too good to be true, right? Skeptics have every reason to question the euphoria certain Americans display on April 15th. In reality, the government is actually forcing taxpayers to loan it money to finance lavish programs, with zero interest.
Ironically enough, withholding wasn’t an original feature of the income tax. It wasn’t until World War II that the practice of tax withholding was standardized through the Current Tax Payment Act of 1943. Withholding would later become a permanent feature of the current tax code, despite its original intentions of being a temporary wartime measure.
Sales Tax Deductions vs. Income Tax Deductions
Though the income tax is a convoluted maze that creates headaches for business owners and individual taxpayers alike, there are certain features in the current tax code that can be used to help taxpayers reduce their overall tax burden and make their tax filing experience more comfortable. Tax deductions are just one of these features.
Taxpayers have the choice of opting for a standard deduction or they can itemize their deductions. If an individual decides to itemize, one of the deductions they’re allowed to take is on various taxes at the state and local level. These deductions are called SALT deductions. Taking a sales tax deduction is a legitimate way to recoup an individual’s local and state sales tax obligations
For 2018, the standard tax deduction was $12,000 for individuals, $18,000 for heads of household, and $24,000 for married couples filing together. Itemizing is a reasonable route to go if an individual’s itemized deductions are larger than the allowed standard deduction. Individuals can’t deduct all state and local taxes, however. They have to choose between deducting state sales taxes or state income taxes, but they can’t deduct both. That being said, taxpayers can deduct state and local property taxes irrespective of the options they choose.
It should be noted that this deduction strategy is not necessarily a one-way ticket to lower taxes. In the case that itemizing deductions gives an individual a lower income tax burden than a standard deduction, the sales tax deduction is worth looking into. It makes sense for individuals who have realized major purchases, thus paying a considerable amount in sales taxes, or for those living in states with no income tax, to include the sales tax in their list of itemized deductions.
Bear in mind that certain things have changed since the 2017 tax reforms. The Trump administration’s tax reforms have capped how much individuals can deduct from federal income taxes for state and local income, property, and sales taxes. Under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, taxpayers can only deduct a maximum of $10,000 in state income taxes and property taxes combined.
The IRS Sales Tax Deduction Calculator
For those who proceed to file a Form 1040 and itemize deductions on Schedule A, they have the option of choosing between claiming state and local income taxes or state and local sales taxes.
If an individual is planning to claim sales taxes paid in order to lower their federal income tax burden, they should first go to the IRS’ Sales Tax Deduction Calculator page. This way they can better estimate their itemized SALT tax savings versus taking the standard deduction.
The IRS’ Sales Tax Deduction Calculator is a handy tool for helping individuals figure out the amount of state and local sales tax one can claim. This is true even if the individual’s state and local sales tax rates changed during the year (e.g., because the rates changed or because you moved your personal residence). Be sure and have your Form 1040 draft in-hand when you are ready to calculate.
GILTI: The Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income Provision
Apart from lowering certain taxes, the 2017 Trump tax reforms came with a series of changes with global implications to the U.S. tax code. One that stands out in particular is the introduction of “The Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income” (which is subversively-nicknamed “GILTI”). GILTI is a new tax provision that specifically targets U.S. corporations that own Controlled Foreign Companies (CFCs) for U.S. tax purposes.
Prior to GILTI, U.S. corporations with a CFC could defer U.S. taxes on the earnings of their CFCs until the CFC distributed those earnings to the parent U.S. corporation. (This is how a U.S.-based multinational like Apple Inc. came to have close to a quarter trillion dollars of foreign cash on-hand, and subsequently had to explain American tax law to U.S. Senators who couldn’t understand what Apple was in fact legally doing.) Post-GILTI, U.S. corporations are taxed at a rate of 10.5% on the earnings of their CFCs regardless of whether the earnings are distributed or not.
To address this transition, the U.S. made two important changes. First, the law authorized the IRS to impose a Section 965 transition tax (also called “The Mandatory Repatriation Tax”) on the accumulated earnings of CFCs through the end of 2017. And second, the law authorized the IRS to impose on CFCs the aforementioned GILTI tax on all future (i.e., post-2017) foreign earnings.
In practice, here’s how the GILTI tax works: Assume you have a CFC owned by a U.S. C corporation (like Apple Inc.) with $1,000 in earnings for 2019. Also assume it has tangible assets with a tax basis of $2,000. You would subtract $200 (10% of $2,000 tangible assets) from the $1,000 in earnings, leaving you with $800 to which a 10.5% tax rate is applied – and you’d get a GILTI tax due of $84.
Amongst Constitutional scholars, the Section 965 transition tax has raised 5th Amendment due process concerns because it authorizes the IRS to impose a retroactive tax on foreign earnings nearly three decades after the fact. To comply with this change, companies have the option to pay in installments over eight years – but they still owe back taxes worth 15.5% on overseas profits computed under U.S. tax principles represented by cash and liquid assets, and 8% on profits represented by illiquid assets.
It is this illiquid asset provision which is ensnaring some expected U.S. companies like Kansas City Southern and Tupperware (hardly Silicon Valley darlings like Apple Inc.), and causing them to pay taxes above the new statutory corporate rate of 21%. And in other cases, business owners must resort to becoming residents of the foreign country their multinational is operating in as a means of lowering their tax burden. This is on display when people consider establishing their residency in Puerto Rico, as will be discussed below.
Tax Reformers Still Have Work to Do
Despite the marketing campaign that initially sold the income tax as a straightforward measure to finance government, it has morphed into a legal maze that keeps tax lawyers gainfully employed. After more than a century in existence, the income tax may no longer be worth the headache that millions of Americans must cope with every year on April 15th.
Although the last few decades have witnessed politicians reducing income taxes at reasonable rates, fiscal irresponsibility and a lopsided tax burden remain lingering problems.
As of 2018, the U.S. has been running a fiscal deficit of $778 billion, in a year when unemployment has reached historical lows. One can only imagine how deep those deficits will go under less favorable economic circumstances. A report from the Wall Street Journal also indicates that the U.S. income tax system remains very progressive, with the top 20 percent of taxpayers paying 87 percent of total income tax revenue.
Tax cuts are not bad in of themselves. The great Libertarian economist Milton Friedman was in “favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it’s possible.” The real problem at hand is the political class’s insistence on maintaining unsustainable levels of spending
In a tragic twist of fate, these deficits will negate all of the positive effects of the original tax cuts. As debt accumulates, future generations will be stuck with a hefty tax bill. Not only that, but big spending crowds out private-sector investment, thus creating a capital-starved future economy. History has shown, in such cases of fiscal irresponsibility, that governments will either raise taxes exorbitantly or turn to the printing presses to debase the currency.
Alternative Tax Models to Consider
For many Americans today, the idea of a world without income taxes seems almost absurd. Income tax has become a presence like furniture in the living room – a baseline they’ve been so used to that they no longer even notice it. But for many business owners, the income tax is a very real part of everyday life that must be dealt with, lest they want to suffer legal penalties.
In the frustrated business owner’s eyes, any type of reform to simplify the tax code would be a release from the current income tax quagmire. The good news is that business owners no longer have to figure out alternatives to the present tax code. There are numerous individuals who have stepped up to plate and put forward reasonable alternatives to the current system.
Several proposals to reform the income tax have come in the form of a national sales tax or a flat tax. Both of these taxes are preferable to the income tax status quo. A flat tax entails having a single tax that taxes every American at one rate. Additionally, the flat tax treats all taxpayers and income equally, in stark contrast to the current tax model.
On the other hand, the national sales tax would repeal the current income tax code and replace it with a tax on the final sale of all goods and services to consumers. Although the most notable difference between the national sales and flat tax is the collection point, they are actually quite similar when it comes to how income is treated.
“A single flat rate. Under both plans, income is taxed at one low rate. This would ensure that the government treated taxpayers equally and would address the problem of high marginal tax rates. The single low rate also would promote faster economic growth by minimizing tax penalties on work, risk-taking, and entrepreneurship.”
“No bias against savings and investment. Implementing either the flat tax or a national sales tax would eliminate the current tax code’s bias against capital formation by ensuring that no income is taxed more than one time. Because double taxation of capital income is a pervasive problem in the current law, going to the flat tax or a national sales tax would stimulate higher incomes and faster growth by minimizing the tax penalties on savings and investment.”
“Equality. Adoption of the flat tax or a national sales tax also would end the discriminatory treatment caused by a tax code that grants preferences or imposes penalties on certain behaviors and activities. Either reform would change the code so that all taxpayers – and all income – are treated the same under the law.”
Mitchell is correct in his assessment that the current progressive system punishes success and discourages saving and investment – two of the pillars of capital accumulation. In addition, risk-taking and entrepreneurship are crucial in a market economy. Progressive income taxes impede this process through its arbitrary redistributions on income.
In the same token, income taxes do have a social engineering function that encourages certain types of behavior and favors certain interest groups over others. For example, on the class warrior side of the aisle, the earned-income tax credit effectively subsidizes low-income tax filers. Other uses of the tax code to socially engineer desired results include sweetheart tax breaks for the solar industry or making childcare costs deductible.
All in all, a switch to either a national sales tax or a flat tax would lead to a simpler tax system that no longer incentivizes interest group politicking or places a disproportionate tax burden on a certain class of taxpayers. Instead, they would encourage productive activities like entrepreneurship, saving, and investment.
Puerto Rico: Tax Incentives For Americans
Due to GILTI and other questionable features of the U.S. tax code, Americans have looked for ways to move abroad so as to lighten their tax burden. The U.S. is unique in its approach to taxing worldwide income, which makes it very difficult for Americans to substantially reduce the amount of taxes they are paying to the U.S. government, even if they live abroad.
With the recent Trump tax reforms, it has become more difficult for U.S. citizens to lower their global tax burden, however, there are still ways around this. One of these strategies has been to move to U.S. territories, which are not subject to the U.S. income tax.
One of the more popular destinations for Americans looking for favorable tax advantages is Puerto Rico. Provided that they they do their homework, Americans could potentially enjoy federal income tax exemptions and see their taxes drop by 90%.
Two programs that the Puerto Rican government offers are Act 20 and Act 22, which are the island’s two major tax incentives.
Here is a brief summary of what these programs entail:
Act 20: The Export Services Act
Act 20 targets certain types of qualifying businesses, like consulting or financial services, by offering incentives such as 4% corporate income tax rates. This is available to corporations who relocate to Puerto Rico and meet the following requirements:
Become a bona fide resident. In other words, an individual must relocate their center of life to the island and spend at least half the year (183 days) in Puerto Rico.
Set up a Puerto Rican company.
Establish an office in the country.
For Americans, GILTI has changed the tax outlook in Puerto Rico. Now that corporate tax policy has been streamlined for all CFCs, U.S persons will have to pay another 6.5% in corporate taxes to meet the GILTI minimum of 10.5%. The best way for Americans who have a CFC to deal with this provision is by becoming official residents of Puerto Rico.
Act 22: Individual Investor Act
Act 22, the Individual Investors Act, gives investors the ability to pay 0% tax on interest, dividends, and capital gains while living in Puerto Rico as a certified resident. Like Act 20, the taxpayer must be a bona fide resident who has relocated their life to Puerto Rico and must spend at least half the year (183 days) on the island.
This program is especially attractive to traders and crypto-investors, or any individual with a large amount of passive income or capital gains from any source.
A Cause for Hope
The tedious process of filing tax returns is a common pain point for millions of Americans on April 15th. After more than a century’s existence, the income tax has become a political baseline, which many Americans take as a given.
Make no mistake about it, the income tax is no mundane feature of the American political economy. In fact, it’s one of the largest enablers of government growth. To genuinely reduce the size of the American state in economic affairs, the abolition of the income tax – or at the very least, a gradual phase-out – would be solid steps in bringing fiscal sanity.
Thanks to a few high-profile political campaigns over the last decade, the desire to get rid of the income tax is no fringe idea, and is starting to gain momentum in Conservative and Libertarian circles.
Since 2008, each presidential cycle has featured candidates on the Republican side of the aisle with campaigns to abolish the IRS. Ron Paul did so in 2008 and 2012, whereas candidates like Paul’s son Rand Paul and Senator Ted Cruz followed in the retired Congressman’s footsteps during the 2016 Republican primaries.
Should the Overton window of public opinion shift toward limited government, the days of Americans having to deal with the IRS may soon come to an end.
After all, tax rebellions are in the American people’s DNA. And with the U.S.’s fiscal situation deteriorating annually, bold measures will need to be taken.
Until yesterday, I took all the prognostications about
the demise of the NRA with several
grains of salt. Believe me, as a Patriot Life Benefactor member, I know better
than anyone who reads this column about the organization’s current
woes – revenue shortfalls, staff layoffs, investigations into the
Russian connection, loss of commercial partnerships – that made 2018 a pretty
tough year. But I also thought that many of those problems were being overblown
by the liberal media which would like nothing better than to see America’s
‘first civil rights organization’ go right down the tubes.
An email I received from the boys in Fairfax, however,
may actually prove that the prophets of NRA
doom will turn out to be correct. Because the email linked to a new video on
the NRA-TV channel which, if nothing
else, indicates that the organization’s attempts to renew its strength are, to
all intents and purposes, either dying or dead.
The video is a 30-second fundraising effort by the
chief NRA-TV clown, Grant
Stinchfield, warning the
faithful that Hillary Clinton may run for President again. And the
proof that ‘crooked Hillary’ is considering yet another attempt at the brass
ring was a comment from a CNN
noisemaker, Jeff Zeleny, that Hillary ‘told’ a couple of her friends that the
indictment of Roger Stone would prove that Trump’s victory was a sham, and
since she won the popular vote, why not try again?
Now the fact that Hillary and Bill couldn’t get their
national tour off a dime; the fact that there are now at least three formidable
women (Harris, Warren, Gillibrand) out there raising money for their 2020
campaigns; the fact that Hillary has about a good chance of being elected
dog-catcher after the way she screwed up the 2016 campaign; oh well, oh well,
oh well. But here’s the bottom line: the dopes who run the NRA marketing effort can’t come up with anything better to bolster
their image than yet another riff on the ‘crooked Hillary’ line. Which is
exactly what the NRA-TV email subject
line read: “Crooked Hillary Hints at a Third Run for the White House.”
Have the boys in Fairfax heard of H. R. 8? It happens to be a piece of legislation introduced
two days after the 116th Congress was convened which has already
gained enough co-sponsors – 229 – to move towards committee hearings and then
to a certain majority vote. If you want to see the NRA’s official position on H.R. 8, just go to the NRA-ILA website where you’ll find this description
of the bill: “Would make it a crime, subject to certain exceptions, to simply hand a
firearm to another person. Anytime gun owners carry out this simple act, they
would potentially be exposing themselves to criminal penalties.”
of course this statement is a typical piece of pro-gun hyperbole, taking some
language from the legislation and twisting it beyond repair, but at least the
editorial staff which creates content for the NRA-ILA website is keeping their collective eyes on the ball. This
is certainly not what’s going on when we look at NRA-TV. How can you compare
the potential threat to gun-owning ‘rights’ of the resurrection of ‘crooked
Hillary’ to a major piece of gun-control legislation that will float through
the House and may even have a chance of Senate approval if Trump’s 2020
political fortunes continue to fade?
fact that the NRA continues to invoke
the Clinton bugaboo when everyone else has forgotten that she exists, tells me
that things at the home office in Fairfax are becoming unglued. Does Wayne-o
really believe that I’m going to increase my annual endowment gift because I’m worried
that Hillary might run?
A long time ago there was a company called GE. They employed a guy named Ronald Reagan to hawk household appliances on television, and now that company doesn’t exist. That’s exactly what’s going to happen to the NRA if they don’t come up with some better messaging about why gun-nuts like me love our guns.
In 2000 I went down to the NRA annual
meeting in Charlotte and was actually in the room when Charlton Heston raised
a flintlock over his head and yelled out ‘from my cold, dead hands.’ Now maybe
he wasn’t coming down from Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments, although his
screen version of Moses was even more impressive than his appearance at
Charlotte, but he got a response from the gun-nuts (including me) in the
The gun company I managed back in the
1980’s made a b-b gun that looked like a flintlock, we ran ads in Boys Life magazine and sold the gun
through the mail for ten bucks. Too bad that Heston didn’t use when of our guns
when he got up on the NRA stage. So imagine how I felt when I learned at some
later date that the rifle that Heston hiked over his head was actually a fake.
Or what we politely call a ‘replica’ gun.
On the other hand, the working version of what Heston held was, in fact, a very accurate and lethal gun. The first version was made in France, but the Continental Army that whipped the British were carrying these weapons and continued to use them until several decades before the Civil War. The problem with flintlocks wasn’t that they were difficult to load or shoot, it was that the powder tended to foul the grooves in the barrel, which meant that most flintlocks were smooth bore and therefore didn’t aim all that well.
There’s a retired engineer in
Minnesota, Brent Gurtek, who manufactures flintlocks, which makes him part of a
craft tradition in the United States which now goes back at least three hundred
and fifty years. Invented in France, it was sometime around the 1650’s when
these guns first appeared over here. Like
all mechanical tools which predated the Industrial Revolution, the guns were
hand-made and hand-fitted with, unfortunately, great variations in quality and
performance, which was the reason that George Washington made the Continental
Congress appropriate money for a government arms factory in Springfield, MA,
several years before the end of the Revolutionary War.
The guns made by our friend Brent
Gurtek, on the other hand, are clearly best of breed. You can see a pic and
description of one of his guns on the Guns America website
but its been sold. And if you want to buy from directly from Brent, figure that
delivery will take up to a year. That’s what happens when you are a craftsman
first and a businessman second. It’s the quality, not the quantity which
My point in talking about Brent,
however, is not to give him a boost.
Rather, thinking about his work leads me to a brief discussion about how
the manufacturing of guns has changed. When I first got into the gun business, guns
were made out of carbon steel, then fitted, polished and finished by hand. The
grips and stocks were wood, cut by hand.
If you went into a gun factory, what you saw were a series of craft shops
operating under one roof. Guns weren’t rolling down an assembly line, they were
hand-carried in small baskets from point to point.
Go into a gun shop today and the guns
all look exactly alike. You can’t tell a Glock from a Sig or a Ruger, because
that’s what happens when the frame is made out of polymer and a trigger and
hammer assembly is dropped in. Guns have become mass commodities rather than hand-crafted
products, and I have to believe that the shift to a manufacturing process which
completely eliminates any brand distinctiveness, cheapens the whole culture of
ownership and reduces how much time and effort people put into caring for their
When people stop thinking about an
object in terms of its intrinsic value, somehow, don’t ask me how, they just
don’t care what happens to the product, and when you don’t care what happens to
a gun it has a funny way of ending up where it shouldn‘t end up.
Which won’t happen with any of Brent
More than a quarter-century ago, two brilliant
researchers, Fred Rivard and Art Kellerman, published research which
definitively linked gun access to increased risk of suicide and homicide.
Frankly, the entire corpus of gun-control research hasn’t really gone beyond
what they said, because nothing more needs to be said. Either there’s a gun
around or there isn’t, and if there is, to quote Walter Mosley,“it will go off,
sooner or later.”
This research resulted in the elimination of gun-research funds from the CDC budget, with Gun-nut Nation convincing a majority of Congress from the dumb states that this kind of research was being conducted not for science, but for partisan (read: liberal) political ends.
Now that the House has flipped blue, Gun-control Nation
and their medical, public-health allies are beating the drums for a resumption
of CDC-funded research. Of course when and if such legislation comes up for a
vote, you can bet the other side will argue that studies showing that guns are
a risk to health are nothing more than politically-motivated research. The
funny thing is, however, that public health research done since CDC funding
ended is not only political in terms of topics and goals, but happens to be
research that protects the ownership of guns.
Huh? Am I saying that noted scholars like the folks at
Harvard and Hopkins want to keep America awash in guns? That’s exactly what I’m saying, and if my
friends at the NRA home office in
Fairfax would come back to their senses, they’ll realize that the best friend
they have is a former New York City mayor whom Gun-nut Nation believes to be
the devil incarnate when it comes to guns. Before you think that I’ve lost my
sense, please read on.
Here’s the policy statement
from the Everytown website: “Support for the
Second Amendment goes hand-in-hand with keeping guns away from criminals and
other dangerous people.” As if the 2nd Amendment
says anything about whether Americans have the ‘right’ to own a small,
concealable handgun which holds 18 rounds of military-grade ammunition and
happened to be the gun used by Seung-Hui Cho to kill 33 people on the Virginia
Tech campus in 2007.
The reason we are the only advanced country which
suffers from gun violence is not because we only do background checks at the initial
point of sale; it’s not because we have 350 million guns floating around; it’s
not because we don’t have PTP licensing; it’s not for any of the reasons that my
friends in public health research have decided requires yet another study to
figure out how to reduce violence caused by guns.
The reason is because we let the gun industry determine
which guns are safe enough to be sold, while the regulators try to figure out
ways to keep the most lethal consumer products imaginable out of the ‘wrong
hands.’ And this naïve and foolish view, which pervades virtually every aspect of
gun research, flows over into the medical community as well. Doctors are advised to show
more ‘respect’ for gun culture, counseling their patients not to get rid of their
guns, but to store them in a safe way. Note that the studies by Kellerman and
Rivara don’t distinguish between stored and unstored guns.
I would like to end this column on a hopeful note. I am
not trying in any way to denigrate the work of my many public health friends who
conduct research on gun injuries and, it goes without saying, would like to see
such injuries eliminated or at least reduced. But as long as this research
community continues to avoid figuring out why some people deal with their fears
by buying guns, telling these folks that guns represent a ‘risk’ is to tell
them nothing at all. Either we get rid of the guns that are responsible for gun
violence or we don’t. And until/unless we get rid of those kinds of guns, there will
be plenty of gun violence to serve as topics for gun research.
up in my shack in a distant corner of the north woods. It’s cold, and quiet,
and very still. I have dried and canned foods, jugs of drinking water, solar
powered LED lights, and plenty of sweet, dry, apple wood to burn. I’ve set
myself the task of composing a “Survivor Apocalypse Manifesto.” But I am not a survivalist. I’m a survivor of
I’ve sought new ways of talking and thinking about the problem of gun violence
in America, some way to break through the indifference of the American people.
I see myself as an anti-Ted Kaczynski, an un-Unabomber engaged in the creation
of a subtly explosive document which, by its eloquence, charm, and irrefutable
logic, will put an end to gun violence as we know it, much as Jerry Rubin and
Ed Sanders levitated and exorcised the Pentagon in 1967. But it’s not going to
be that easy this time around, for the simple reason that most non-survivors
don’t give a hoot about the problem of gun violence in America. As they’ve
demonstrated ad nauseam, the pink-faced white men in power don’t care,
and that vast majority of citizens who tell pollsters they favor stronger gun
laws don’t care either. If they did, they’d already have voted the pink-faced
politicians who don’t care out of office.
is left to deal with the eradication of gun violence? The survivors of gun
violence, that’s who. And the many more people who are in imminent danger of
being personally affected by gun violence. Which includes everyone. Too bad for
you if you don’t see the truth in this. The purpose of the “Survivor Apocalypse
Manifesto” should therefore be clear.
however, I must deal with a fact of woodland life. In the fall, a particular
species of fly crawls into every cranny of a place like this to sleep through
the winter. When I opened the door this afternoon, for the first time since
October, the floor was covered with them, right where they’d dropped when the
temperature fell low enough to knock them out. I swept them up and threw them
away. Then I lit a fire in the wood stove. To my horror the warmth brought more
flies back to life. Many more, crawling out of whatever fly holes they’d been
sleeping in. Thousands of them, big and fat. They’re called “cluster flies”
because they cluster, and right now they’re clustering on the windowpanes,
marring my view of the highlands. It’s disgusting. I’m sorry to say that
composition of the “Survivor Apocalypse Manifesto” will be postponed owing to
the necessity of initiating a cluster fly holocaust.
Kacsynski went nuts.
always something, isn’t there? Some impediment, some fly in the ointment. What
does it mean, “well-regulated militia?” What is the definition of an assault
rifle? Why don’t we just enforce the laws already on the books? This is not the
time for such talk. This is the time for thoughts and prayers.
II – History
In 1978 my sister Wendy died, as we say, by her own hand,
which had a revolver in it, which was pointed at her heart when she squeezed
the trigger. (Women tend to go for the heart; men the head.) She purchased her
gun at a pawn shop the day before her death – an unfortunate impulse shopping
decision that would be just as easy today, in many states, as it was in Nashua,
New Hampshire in 1978. Most people who survive a suicide attempt never try
again. If she’d decided instead to hang herself she would have had only a 60%
chance of success. Poison, 40%. Cutting, 2%. With a gun the chances of success rise
to 90%. Though it’s not success, is it?
Fourteen years later, in December 1992, my
eighteen-year-old son Galen was killed in a school shooting at Simon’s Rock
College in western Massachusetts. He was the random victim of a disturbed
fellow student who’d bought a used semi-automatic rifle at a local gun shop the
afternoon of the shootings. The killer modified his gun to accept thirty-round
magazines, which he’d ordered, using his mother’s credit card, along with 180
rounds of ammunition, from a mail order company in South Carolina. Purchases of
the gun, the ammunition, and the aftermarket accessories were perfectly legal,
and they’d be be just as legal now, in many states, as they were in 1992.
These events have given me the unusual perspective of
having spent forty years closely watching nothing happen. Or, watching a lot
happen, most of which involves people getting killed by guns and politicians
doing nothing about it. Let us observe a moment of silence. Let us attend to
the buzzing of flies.
Yesterday one of the three or four emails I receive every day from the boys in Fairfax was an event invitation for any of the ladies who share my home. There happen to be two at the moment: Carolyn my wife and Phyllis the cat. The email was an invitation to join the NRA’s Women’s Wilderness Escape session being held in the New Hampshire wilderness on September 14 – 16, a new program aimed at (pardon the pun) a very important demographic for Gun-nut Nation otherwise known as women.
Over the years, the gun
industry has failed every time it tries to get the female gender excited
about guns. They have tried manufacturing guns which feel more comfortable in
smaller, female hands; they have designed guns with finishes whose colors are
something other than ugly, steel grey; they have trotted out Dana ‘home-school queen’
Loesch to warn women about arming up to protect themselves from all those
street thugs. None of these stupid, huckstering appeals have worked worth a
Why not? Because women, generally speaking, are much more adverse than men to any safety appeal which requires them to respond by using violence in any form. And like it or not, the purpose of a gun is to commit violence, which the World Health Organization defines as any attempt to injure yourself or someone else. So even if violence is used for self-protection, you are still behaving in a violent way, and most women are simply not going to buy the idea that some kinds of violence is bad, but other kinds are good.
What I love about this latest attempt of the boys in Fairfax to rescue the tattered remains of their once-great organization (which could easily become great again if they would just stop promoting this self-defense nonsense) is the degree to which the entire Women’s Wilderness Escape program is based on fantasy, nothing more than that. The wilderness into which the women will be escaping is actually the shooting range where Sig tests its guns, located about 5 miles from U.S. Route 1, which has at least a Mobil mini-mart, McDonald’s, Dunks, Starbucks or Wal Mart every fifty feet. There isn’t a single stretch of real estate anywhere in the United States which is less wilderness than where these women will be ‘escaping’ for a couple of days. And by the way, in order to join this wilderness cavalcade you only need to fork over $895 bucks, which doesn’t include breakfast, dinner or sleeping out in your tent – yea right.
This program gives the gun maker Sig an opportunity to do some test-marketing of one of their new entrants into the assault-rifle category, a 9mm short-barreled rifle known as the MPX. I’ll spare you all the technical details except to say that the gun has less recoil than the usual .223 round, it’s smaller and lighter than the standard AR-15, all of which makes it ‘perfect for the beginner woman shooter’ to get into guns.
Maybe I’m too old or too dumb to figure it out, but I simply don’t understand why the gun industry continues to search for messaging that will make women realize a gun isn’t just a man’s best friend. After all, most male gun owners happen to be married, which means that 20 to 30-million females are already living in homes that contain guns. How come it’s still always the male half of the domestic arrangement who goes out to buy another gun?
One of these days the NRA will wake up to the fact that even though a majority of Americans believe that a gun is a very useful way to defend yourself from harm, a majority of Americans also don’t happen to own guns. And the reason why gun makers just can’t find a way to expand their market is because the female gender is not only present in most households, but also determines how household money will be spent.
Want to sell products to women? See how much LVMH wants for Sephora or Estee Lauder wants for Clinique.
Back in 2016, you may recall that our friends in
Fairfax (a.k.a. the NRA) not only
endorsed Sleazy Don for President at an unprecedented (for them) early date,
but combined this decision with an attack narrative that went far beyond anything
they had previously said or done. Remember Dana ‘home-school-queen’ Loesch warning
‘every lying member of the media’ that their ‘time has come?’ Recall how
up at C-PAC and told the adoring audience that the media ‘wants to make us less
The problem with lumping their PR strategy together with what Trump was whining about on the campaign
trail, is that it never occurred to the leadership of America’s ‘first civil
rights organization’ that maybe, just maybe, the whole thing would hit a dead
end. And the dead end occurred back in November, when the Democrats handed Trump
and the GOP a startling and
staggering loss. Despite
claims by Sleazebag Don and fathead Limbaugh that the election was a ‘victory’
for the red team, in fact, neither Party has ever gained as many House seats in
any election since 1938.
More important than the size of the victory is the fact
that the blue team now has a national leader who cleaned Sleazy Don’s clock
this week by responding to his taunts about the ‘radicals’ running the
Democratic Party by telling him that as for the State of the Union, he could
stay away. The best example of the
collapse of America’s great deal-maker was his comment
that he might look for an alternate site for delivering the speech. Why not the
Trump International Hotel? He could walk
over from the White House in ten minutes or less.
So the bottom line is that the world has changed both
for our friends in the gun-control movement as well as for our friends who run
the NRA. Between trying to pick up the pieces of their
dopey Carry Guard
insurance program, defending themselves against allegations of all kinds of
activities and looking to put together a new list of corporate
partners offering discounts to the NRA faithful,
there’s not a lot of time left over to promote the agenda of Sleazebag Don. So
they have fallen back on what they do best, namely, posturing themselves as
being stalwart defenders of our beloved 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ And
the most effective way to get that message across is to claim that all those groups
advocating ‘reasonable’ gun laws are nothing more than fronts for the
continued efforts of Mike Bloomberg to get rid of guns.
If you were the mayor of a city where shootings were a
routine part of life, how could you not want to get rid of guns? Frankly, I never
understood why anyone would be either surprised or upset by the fact that a guy
like Bloomberg would be against guns. Now maybe if he had been responsible for
public safety in a quiet little town somewhere in the Midwest, it would be
difficult to imagine him leading an anti-gun crusade. But his views on gun
violence happen to align a lot more consistently with his background and experiences
than the positions on gun violence taken by that stupid, vulgar, POS-landlord
who happens to be sitting in the White House right now.
Just as Gun-nut Nation was probably unprepared for the
strength and depth of November’s blue wave, I also suspect that the outcome of
the 2018 election came as something of a shock to my friends in the gun
violence prevention movement, a.k.a. the GVP.
Which brings me to the real reason for what I want to say today.
Given the new political realities in DC, I think it’s time for my GVP friends to drop all this nonsense about supporting ‘reasonable’ gun laws and tell it like it is. Either you end gun violence by ending open access to the guns which cause the violence (read: handguns) or you don’t. If Nancy’s willing to tell Sleazebag Don to stick it you know where, why can’t my friends in the gun-control movement say the same thing to the NRA?
Why do I get the feeling that some of my gun violence
prevention (GVP) advocacy friends
can’t wait for the Supreme Court to expand 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’
beyond the boundaries set by the Heller decision in 2008? You may recall that
Scalia’s opinion in that case ratified the idea that Americans who wanted to
keep a handgun in their home would now be exercising a Constitutional ‘right.’ Period.
Did this decision create Constitutional protection for walking around the
neighborhood with a concealed gun? No. Did it create Constitutional protection
for walking around the neighborhood with an openly-carried gun? No. Did it
prevent localities from making all kinds of rules and regulations that had to
be met before you could keep a handgun in your home? No. The decision
simply said that as long as sooner or later you could be given permission to
keep a handgun in your home, you were not being deprived of your 2nd-Amendment
‘right’ to ‘keep and bear arms.’
The case which has the GVP advocacy folks worked
up into a tizzy doesn’t actually question the constitutionality of New York
City’s onerous gun-licensing process at all; a process known as the Sullivan
Law which has been in effect since 1912 and is, simply put, the most
restrictive licensing system ever devised anywhere on the planet. The case
in question deals only with a regulation which is not, in fact, part
of the licensing process itself, but only comes into effect after a gun owner
spends a lot of money and a lot of time getting licensed to own a gun. The
regulation in question forbids any resident of New York City to carry his
licensed gun outside the five counties which comprise the city’s geographic
limits. If, for example, you want to take your licensed gun to any location
outie the city, the moment you drive from da city into Joisey or Rockland or
some other place, you’re violating the NYC licensing law.
The case in question basically argues that by requiring
a city resident to keep his licensed gun within the city limits is to deprive
that resident of his 2nd-Amendment ‘right’ to keep a gun in his home
if he happens to have another home. And what is now going on within the GVP world is the great fear that if this
regulation is struck down, it opens the way for all those crazy gun owners to
go anywhere and everywhere they want with their guns.
Which happens not to be true. What? Hey Mike, are you saying that maybe, just
maybe the GVP noise machine is making
a big deal out of something that may turn out to mean little, if anything at
all? That’s exactly what I am saying, and here’s the reason why.
Let’s say I have an apartment in Manhattan and a house
out at the beach, maybe in one of the Hampton high-crime towns like Southampton
or Quogue. The moment I drive my car out of the city and cross the border
between Queens and Nassau Counties, I’m actually not just violating one law,
I’m, violating two. Because I can’t have a gun in my beach house without
getting a gun license from the Suffolk County where the beach house is located,
unless the address of my other home is in a jurisdiction which has no gun
licensing at all.
Could the Court rule that no jurisdiction has the authority to determine whether guns represent a threat to public safety and therefore strike down every gun-licensing law in every state? They can rule whatever they want to rule, but on this one I wouldn’t take the short odds. The whole point of the Heller decision was to protect private ownership of handguns but also to protect the government’s authority to uphold the ‘compelling interest’ of keeping communities safe. And even a court with a nut-job like Clarence Thomas wouldn’t uphold the notion that when it comes to public safety, armed citizens should be our first line of defense.