States Spent $19 Million Subsidizing Assault Rifle Manufactures

Taxpayers across the country are subsidizing the manufacturers of assault rifles used in multiple mass killings, including the massacre of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown last month. A Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting examination of tax records shows that five companies that make semi-automatic rifles have received more than $19 million in tax breaks, most within with the past five years. “I feel horrified at the power of the gun industry over our political system, that it could exert such influence,” said Newtown resident Barbara Richardson, who lives between the homes of one of the 6-year-old victims and the shooter. Saying she respects hunters who are ethical and good neighbors, she “absolutely [does] not” support taxpayer subsidies to help manufacture assault rifles: “They’re weapons of mass destruction.”

Any new jobs due to tax subsidies are “not worth it,” said Richardson, a nurse whose first patient ever was a 19-year-old accidentally shot by his 13-year-old brother with their father’s gun. The states providing the subsidies since 2003: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Oklahoma.

Gun Violence Needs A Public Health Remedy

After the Newtown school shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead, President Obama said, “These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.’’

Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, agreed, writing a letter to the President urging that the nation take a public health approach to reduce gun violence. “For too long,” Dr. Benjamin wrote, “we as a nation have failed to take on this devastating problem in our communities, and we can wait no longer.”

This is not simply a matter of semantics. Labeling something a public health issue is a game-changer. It brings together researchers and policy-makers across all sectors.