Five companies that make semiautomatic weapons have gotten $19 million in tax breaks from nine states within the past five years, according to the Maine centre for Public Interest Reporting.Semiautomatic weapons, also known as self-loading rifles, can shoot relatively quickly and were largely restricted in the U.S. until 2004. These weapons have been used in mass shootings, including the recent tragedy at a Newtown, Conn. elementary school.
Given the controversy surrounding these guns, taxpayers might be surprised to find out that they’re essentially subsidizing the companies that make the weapons.
Most tax subsidies went to Remington, which got $11.9 million from four states, and Smith & Wesson, which got $6.7 million from two states, according to the Public Interest Reporting analysis.
Bushmaster, which made the .223 rifle reportedly used in the Newtown shooting, also got state tax subsidies, the report found.
State officials point out that a range of businesses get tax breaks to come to certain states that hope they’ll bring jobs or attract other businesses, the Maine centre for Public Interest Reporting analysis found.
But a recent New York Times investigation found that towns across the U.S. frequently pay a high price when they try to lure businesses with tax breaks.
States, counties, and cities give up $80 billion a year in tax breaks to various companies, but they rarely know whether the expenditures are worthwhile because they don’t track how many jobs are created, The Times found.
Meanwhile, The Times’ analysis showed that many manufacturers that got tax breaks to do business in a particular state weren’t considering leaving the country. That means states are simply competing with one another to attract businesses, and there’s no overall job growth for the United States.
Some state officials obviously don’t see a problem with the fact that some of those businesses states are competing for are gun makers.
Anne Haskell, a member of Maine’s legislature, has defended tax exemptions the state provided for Bushmaster. She has pointed out that state police had bought rifles from the company, according to the Maine centre for Public Interest.
“The fact that we’re providing a tax break to a company that’s providing jobs and high quality firearms to our state police doesn’t raise a red flag for me,” Haskell has said.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.