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Why tax guns when you can require licensing and insurance for them?

Why tax guns when you can require licensing and insurance for them?
Handguns for sale are displayed at a Miami gun store in 2016. (Alan Diaz / Associated Press)

To the editor: The social cost of unrestricted firearm possession is astronomical. Taxing gun sales will fuel the current rancorous debate but will do little to improve public safety.

Licensing would be a better first step. We accommodate many lethal devices in a way that limits dangerous use. The automobile, a popular lethal device, must be licensed and insured. Drivers must demonstrate competence and legal awareness.

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Requiring an up-to-date license for every firearm purchase need not present a financial burden to gun owners. It could require owners to demonstrate the ability to use and store their weapons responsibly. It could require owners to certify that they have undergone training by a licensed instructor.

Registration might help to limit weapon transfers to criminals or unstable individuals. Individuals at risk of violent behavior could be more easily deprived of tools to wreak havoc.

Eric Foxman, West Hills

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To the editor: Let’s stipulate that gun sales should be taxed to pay for the damage that their misuse causes.

Alcohol costs our society billions as we address its related physical and mental illnesses. We must pay for public safety staffing and equipment, unintended pregnancies, sexual misconduct and even injuries that involve a gun.

Accordingly, California’s liquor, wine and beer manufacturers, distributors and users should also be taxed as a way to proportionally address the consequences of the misuse of their products.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Jim Kennedy, Smyrna, Tenn.

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To the editor: I’m thinking that a tax of up to $100 on smartphone purchases would be a way for government to get more revenue. That money could be used to enforce laws against handling these products while driving.

Since most smartphones are expensive, I doubt such a tax would be much of a burden on purchasers. We have to do something to reduce the number of injuries and deaths caused by distracted driving and inattentive pedestrians due to phone addiction.

Jon Jensen, Buena Park

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