Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a tax-cut package Tuesday which contains a provision that would exempt gun clubs from having to pay sales tax on admission and membership dues, his office announced.
State legislators passed the package in an emergency session that went through to early Monday morning.
Marion Hammer, executive director of Unified Sportsmen of Florida and past president of the National Rifle Association, lauded the legislation, saying it will protect the right to keep and bear arms and free speech.
“These gun clubs are non-profits, they’re not making money,” Hammer told Guns.com. Florida gun clubs have ranges that they let groups like the Boy Scouts use, “so they’re great community partners.”
No one gets salaries, Hammer said.
“When you look at what a gun club is … taxing them is not only taxing a Second Amendment right, you’re taxing the First Amendment as well,” Hammer said.
Hammer argued that gun clubs are not just a place to shoot, they’re also used as gathering places for political speech.
The preemption measure will protect Florida gun clubs against the Department of Revenue, which has been attempting to impose taxation of gun club membership since 2010, Hammer said.
The state’s lieutenant governor, Jeff Kottkamp, sent a letter to the Revenue Department declaring it was “occupying the whole field of regulation of firearms” against state law.
“They have been doing it since 2010, unlawfully, in violation of preemption,” Hammer said. “The legislation regulates all phases of guns and ammunition unless expressly permitted by law.”
The Department of Revenue did not respond to requests for comment by article publication.
The bill proposed $428.9 million in overall cuts to benefit taxpayers. It was trimmed from some $600 million to about $400 million and was tabled due to time constraints during the last legislative session.
That’s the reason the tax-cut package didn’t pass last time, Hammer said. The session ended early, but the provision to exempt gun clubs was kept in the package.
“It was the right thing and the smart thing to do,” Hammer said.