Mississippi retailers prepare for Second Amendment Sales Tax Holiday

In this file photo, Randy Crocker , left, with USA Pawn, shows Hal Finch of Madison a pistol in the store on I-55 at McDowell Road in Jackson. Mississippi has removed the 7 percent state sales tax on guns, ammunition, archery equipment and some hunting supplies for the first weekend each September. (File photo/The Clarion-Ledger)

In this file photo, Randy Crocker , left, with USA Pawn, shows Hal Finch of Madison a pistol in the store on I-55 at McDowell Road in Jackson. Mississippi lawmakers approved a tax-free holiday weekend for guns and ammo statewide in 2014. (File photo/The Clarion-Ledger)

Gun dealers in Mississippi are gearing up for the state’s fourth annual Second Amendment Sales Tax Holiday — a 48 hour window for shoppers to buy guns, ammo and accessories free of the state’s 7 percent sales tax.

Enacted three years ago by the state Legislature, the upcoming weekend means as much for local retailers’ bottom line as the holiday shopping season, a historically busy period for the gun industry.

“It’s actually bigger for us than Black Friday,” Todd Sarotte, manager of Van’s Sporting Goods in Brandon, Mississippi, told the USA Today Network Tuesday. “It’s grown every year, and for the last two years it’s been bigger than Black Friday for us.”

Dealers processed more than 20,000 applications for handguns and long guns through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System in August 2016 — a 79 percent increase over the last four years. Guns.com compared background check numbers for August 2016, and September 2013 through 2015 to account for the state’s decision last year to move the tax holiday from the first weekend in September to the last weekend in August to give shoppers more time to prepare for hunting season.

By comparison, November’s background checks fell just short of 23,000 last year — the biggest on record for gun checks, and by proxy, sales.

The state doesn’t track lost revenue from the tax holiday, but instead sees the event as a tourist draw for hunters and gun owners alike, according to USA Today. Opponents of similar legislation in Texas argue the holiday could cost the state $11 million.

Still, Mississippi’s holiday inspired lawmakers in Tennessee and Arkansas to propose their own versions this year. Louisiana also offers a tax-reduced holiday for guns on Labor Day weekend.

The Magnolia state event exempts guns, ammo, scopes and mounts, gun cases, slings and most archery equipment from sales tax. Non-exempt items include gun safes, hearing aids, binoculars and apparel, among others. A more comprehensive list can be found here.

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