Good time to pull trigger on gun purchases

Lana Walker, left, and head clerk Jessica Williamson stand by a display of firearms at Southern Cash and Pawn in McComb. No sales tax will be charged on guns and accessories Friday through Sunday. 

Is there some gun you’ve been hankering to buy but haven’t pulled the trigger on, so to speak? Next weekend might be the time to do it, as Mississippi will hold its Second Amendment Sales Tax Holiday on guns and hunting supplies from Friday through Sunday.

So far as I can tell, we’re the only state to do that.

Several states have sales tax holidays, typically for school supplies or weather preparedness items. Mississippi appears to be alone in encouraging gun sales.  

According to the Mississippi Department of Revenue, the sales tax exemption applies to “firearms, ammunition and hunting supplies,” with hunting supplies defined as “archery equipment, firearm and archery cases, firearm and archery accessories, hearing protection, holsters, belts and slings.”

The sales tax is 7%, and the bigger the purchase, the bigger the savings: 70 cents on a $10 purchase, $7 on $100 and $70 on $1,000.

The exemption will be in effect from 12:01 a.m. Friday until midnight Sunday.

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A gun I’ve hankered after but never pulled the trigger on is a Derringer, the old-fashioned two-barreled kind. I’ve had a soft place for Derringers since I first saw the classic 1961 Western “One-Eyed Jacks” as a kid.

Marlon Brando directed the movie and starred as the outlaw Kid Rio. His partner Dad Longworth, played by Karl Malden, ran out on him and left him to be arrested by Mexican federales. Years later Malden became a sheriff and Brando showed up looking for revenge.

Brando’s character seethes with rage and delivers some of the most memorable movie insults ever:

“You scum-sucking pig!” “You big tub of guts!” “You gob of spit!”

Apparently Kid Rio had anger management problems.

In one key scene, Brando is in jail and his girlfriend smuggles a Derringer into his cell. When a deputy,  played by Slim Pickens, comes upstairs, Brando brandishes the little pistol.

Pickens scoffs at the “pea-shooter” — until he realizes Brando is serious about using it. I won’t give any more away, but suffice it to say the scene — and the pistol — left an impression on me.

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The Derringer originated in 1825 but has now come to refer to nearly any pocket pistol. It comes in calibers ranging from .22 to .45 and even .410 gauge but is for close-range self-defense only.

I remember interviewing a man who raised Mexican bulls and kept a .22 Derringer loaded with rat shot handy to deter his animals if they got too aggressive.

A low-end Derringer sells for $130, meaning a savings of $9 without sales tax. A higher-end model is $580, so you’d save $40.

Whatever your purchase is, multiply by .07 to calculate your savings.

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At the Bullet Hole in Brookhaven, a spokesperson said her customers are more interested in larger-caliber handguns — .380 to .45 caliber — than pocket pistols.

As for long guns, ARs continue to dominate. They tie in with political fears of civil unrest and all that. ARs are favored because of their “availability, capacity, distance,” she said.

However, customers during the Second Amendment Sales Tax Holiday are looking for “everything they can get their hands on right now,” she said.

And that may not be what they want, since suppliers aren’t keeping up with the demand, in large part because of the effects of the coronavirus on the supply chain.

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Customers’ preferences vary from store to store. At 51 Gun & Pawn in Bogue Chitto, “We sell a lot of dove ammo at that time (sales tax holiday), the high-brass shot sells,” said Candace Strange.

To boost sales, her store offers a 7% discount with no sales tax on anything during the weekend.

Expensive shotguns are good sellers during the sales tax weekend, said Ryan Strange.

“If you’re looking for a high-end gun, a $1,200 to $1,500 gun, with a sales tax discount you can really save a lot of money,” he pointed out.

People buying several cases of shells can save enough in taxes so they’re “pretty much getting a case of ammo for free,” he said.

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At Southern Cash and Pawn in downtown McComb, hunting rifles and scopes are popular during the sales tax holiday, said owner Joey Slipher.

The Mossberg Patriot has been a big seller in recent years, but due to production shortages, the Savage Axis has taken its place. The Axis is a no-frills bolt-action rifle with a plastic stock and detachable box magazine with calibers ranging from .223 to 7 mag.

Pocket pistols sell well at Southern Cash and Pawn, such as North American Arms .22 and .22 magnum revolvers.

“They’re really good for personal protection, somebody who doesn’t want to be a professional concealed carrier,” Slipher said.

“We sell a lot of them to ladies, and to men to put in their pocket.”

The range of such pistols is 5 to 7 feet — just about the distance from Kid Rio’s jail cell to where deputy Slim Pickens was standing.

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