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Sales tax holiday is off with a bang

Lonnie Keller expects gun sales to hit the bullseye this weekend as shoppers take advantage of the Second Amendment Sales Tax Holiday.

Keller’s son, Mike Keller, opened Wesson Arms Company on Hwy. 51 about five months ago. The helpful dad was assisting customers and manning the phones Friday in the first of the three-day statewide holiday that was passed by lawmakers in 2014. The tax holiday began at 12:01 a.m. Friday and gives shoppers a 60-hour window to buy guns, ammo and accessories free of Mississippi’s 7 percent sales tax.

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.

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.

And though the holiday doesn’t end until midnight Sunday, most of the suppliers around this area are closed that day.

Jennifer Goss, who owns The Bullet Hole Indoor Range on Caleb Drive in Brookhaven said business was good Friday and she expects to see big crowds today until noon when she typically closes. She’d like to see the state include Thursday and make it a longer weekend.

“The Sunday is mostly good for big box stores,” she said. “Most of the mom-and-pop shops are not open. Most of those are going to be closed on Sunday.”

Even with limited time to take advantage of the tax-free weekend, Goss is happy her customers will have the opportunity to save money. She expects to sell guns, ammo and “most everything that’s on the list” from the state Department of Revenue.

She’s been open about 10 years and her customers have come to appreciate the tax-free weekend that started four years ago.

“We’ve got folks that come in and do a special order so they can get the tax-free weekend,” she said. “They’ll order (merchandise) and then come in this weekend and pay for it.”

Others will place the order for their guns and ammo today and pay for it today so they’ll get it tax-free.

Goss said the advantage comes at a good time of the year as well.

“It picks up around this time of the year. This is our busy time of the season right before the hunting season,” he said.

District 92 Rep. Becky Currie, R-Brookhaven, said the tax-free weekend can mean as much for local retailers’ bottom line as the holiday shopping season. That’s 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.

She said the opportunity to make purchases without sales tax gives gun sellers an economic shot in the arm.

“It gives that industry a boost,” she said. “It gets people out shopping. Hopefully, they’ll come and shop locally. We’ve got some good places to come and buy your ammunition and guns.”

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.

Keller said shoppers have been taking advantage of the tax break.

“When you’re purchasing high-dollar firearms, the savings can add up,” he said. “The thing is, every dollar saved, it’s good for them.”

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