Ohio GOP lawmakers want to make guns cheaper by exempting them from sales tax

By: - June 2, 2023 5:00 am
Gun wall rack with rifles. Getty Images.

Gun wall rack with rifles. Getty Images.

Guns could become more accessible under a newly introduced bill in the Ohio House that would exempt guns and ammunition from sales tax in the state.

Current gun laws

Ohio laws are as follows, but not limited to:

  • A person must be at least 18 years old to purchase a long gun
  • A person must be at least 21 years old to purchase a handgun.
  • Convicted felons are prohibited from purchasing, possessing or using firearms
  • A person may not open-carry a firearm into a school, onto school grounds or school bus, or into a courthouse
  • No background checks for handgun purchases at point of sale
  • No concealed carry permits needed (permitless carry)
  • No extreme risk law to allow law enforcement or family members to petition for a court order to temporarily prevent someone from accessing a gun
  • No secure storage requirement to prevent children or others from accessing guns or ammo
  • No high-capacity magazines prohibited
  • Allows approved adults to carry guns in schools
  • Does not allow municipalities to create their own gun safety laws

House Bill 198

“We don’t want to penalize individuals that want to exercise their right,” state Rep. Josh Williams (R-Oregon) said. “The government shouldn’t be profiting from responsible gun owners who are attempting to exercise their Second Amendment rights.”

Williams is the cosponsor of House Bill 189, which would eliminate the sales tax on guns and ammunition.

“The state of Ohio is just really giving out these guns — it’s like it’s candy,” gun violence survivor and safety advocate Erick Bellomy said.

Bellomy warned that this bill would make guns cheaper.

“I just feel as though they are really trying to do whatever they can to make access to guns easy in Ohio,” Bellomy said.

The legislation gives gun manufacturers a tax credit, he noted.

The tax credit helps make Ohio more competitive, while the tax cuts actually make gun ownership more equitable, Williams said. Removing taxes can help those with lower income afford a gun for their own safety.

“We’re not seeing anything being done here in the state when it comes to providing safe options to get that epidemic under control,” Bellomy said.

State Rep. Darnell Brewer (D-Cleveland) said he is listening — and is attempting to create a “common sense” gun law. He has also introduced a bill targeting the sales tax, but this one would eliminate the tax on gun safety products, like storage containers and trigger locks.

“Hopefully, this is an incentive for people; when they buy guns and ammo, they say, ‘Hey, let me buy this device as well,'” Brewer said.

Both Bellomy and Williams are showing support for the gun safety bill.

“As long as it doesn’t mandate that individual uses it or requires that individual use safety devices on the firearms, I would support it,” Williams said. “Any instance where we have tax burdens that are suppressing an individual’s right to exercise either their constitutional rights or just their liberty in general — In Ohio, we’re interested in removing those tax burdens.”

However, the gun safety advocate is worried that Brewer’s legislation will be ignored like the dozens of other protective bills throughout the past year.

“While they’re reviewing the bill for tax incentives for the gun manufacturers, also look at what you can do in a same way to protect Ohioans,” Bellomy said.

Williams said the two bills aren’t mutually exclusive.

“We can attack gun violence while protecting gun ownership at the same time,” he said.


OCJ/WEWS asked both lawmakers about the financial impact of their bills since the state would be losing sales tax revenue.

I understand we’ve got to talk about sales taxes,” Brewer said. “But right now, we need to talk about life.”

Williams was asked about his support for eliminating the state income tax and if cutting the sales tax on guns and ammunition could cause issues for the state.

“We eventually want to get to eliminating the income tax and having essentially consumer taxes, but not consumption of constitutionally protected items,” Williams responded.

What now?

Both bills will likely be heard in the coming months.

This article was originally published on News5Cleveland.com and is published in the Ohio Capital Journal under a content-sharing agreement. Unlike other OCJ articles, it is not available for free republication by other news outlets as it is owned by WEWS in Cleveland.

Follow WEWS statehouse reporter Morgan Trau on Twitter and Facebook.



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Morgan Trau
Morgan Trau

Morgan Trau is a political reporter and multimedia journalist based out of the WEWS Columbus Bureau. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Trau has previously worked as an investigative, political and fact-checking reporter in Grand Rapids, Mich. at WZZM-TV; a reporter and MMJ in Spokane, Wash. at KREM-TV and has interned at 60 Minutes and worked for CBS Interactive and PBS NewsHour.