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Right to bear arms comes tax free this weekend

Jason Martin-Nez believes it’s bigger than Black Friday.

The owner of 601 Sports on Brookway Boulevard said the state’s Second Amendment Sales Tax Holiday — which began at 12:01 a.m. today — gives shoppers a 48-hour window to buy guns, ammo and accessories free of Mississippi’s 7 percent sales tax.

The holiday, which will end at midnight Sunday, can mean as much for local retailers’ bottom line as the holiday shopping season, Martin-Nez said.

Rep. Becky Currie, R-Brookhaven, said that’s exactly why it was passed during the 2014 Legislative session. 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, she said.

“It’s a shot in the arm to the economy,” she said. “It gets the economy booming and helps out those merchants in this time of year. Mississippi is a big hunting and wildlife state. It’s just a good time of year to get your Christmas presents, stock up on your ammo or buy a gun you’ve been dreaming of.”

While the state will lose the sales tax from each sale made on qualifying items this weekend, it will gain in other ways, Currie said. Those shopping, who might otherwise have stayed at home, will be out spending money on more than guns and hunting equipment.

“They may go out to eat. They may go fill up their tank with gas,” she said.

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.

Martin-Nez said they expect a heavy turnout through the weekend.

“It’s a huge weekend for us,” he said. “We get  a ton of traffic. It’s the perfect time for people to come out and get a jump start on the hunting season.”

He believes archery purchases will be higher than usual since bow season starts soon.

“It’s one of the biggest shopping days of the year,” he said. “It’s bigger than Black Friday. There’s so many people just buying guns and archery equipment.”

Rickie Tardo at Deep South Sporting Goods on South Jackson Street said he’s seen an increase in sales during the Second Amendment weekend in the past few years. Many of his customers will scope out the merchandise they want and then buy it when the sales tax is nil.

“They’re waiting to pick up the items that are on hold so they don’t have to pay the sales tax,” he said.

Tardo sees the weekend as a great incentive for shoppers to buy local rather than shop online.

“So many people order online because they don’t have to pay taxes on it,” he said.

He appreciates that the lawmakers created the holiday, but would like to see it last longer.

“I wish they could do it all the time,” he said.

Sissy Strange owns 51 Pawn and Gun in Bogue Chitto. She’s seen traffic increase each year during the tax-free holiday.

“We have a great weekend,” she said.

She’s anticipating even better sales than she saw last year. Strange said people love to feel like they’re getting a bargain or a good deal.

“The economy is rough right now and if you can save money, you’re going to,” she said.

The sales tax weekend is named for the second amendment of the Constitution, which says a well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

To see a complete list of what is exempt from sales tax and what is not, visit www.dailyleader.com.