Taxpayers across the U.S. 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, Ct. last month, reports the Center for Public Integrity. 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. The states providing the subsidies since 2003: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Oklahoma. Officials point out that such tax breaks are generally given to a range of businesses, not only to gun manufacturers, in the belief by state legislators and governors that they will attract industry or create or retain jobs.
One of the tax breaks that went to a Smith & Wesson plant in Maine was based on a program initiated by then-Gov. Angus King, now the senator-elect from that state. King told the center, “Various tax incentive programs have been enacted over the years in Maine and virtually every other state to encourage and support job creation, particularly in the manufacturing sector. No one suggested at the time these programs were created—or since, as far as I know—that the government should decide which particular businesses within broad categories would be more or less desirable.” Many economists doubt that these programs create any net new jobs. Kim Rueben, an economist with the Tax Policy Center in Washington, said, in most cases there is no increase in the numbers of jobs; instead, she said, such programs encourage businesses to move to the state with the best subsidies.