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Black Friday gun sale: South Carolina offers two day sales tax holiday

On Black Friday, shoppers across America will set out in search of bargains on flat screen TVs, Verizon Droids, Snuggies and... guns? Only in South Carolina.

The Palmetto State is offering its residents a sales tax holiday beginning on Black Friday. For guns. It is the only two day sales tax holiday of its kind in the country.

The South Carolina Department of Revenue issued reminders earlier in the week for what has been dubbed the "Second Amendment Sales Tax Holiday for 2009."

The two day sales tax-free event begins on 12:01 a.m. on Black Friday. During the sales tax holiday, shoppers will pay no state or local sales taxes on handguns, rifles and shotguns. Generally, the statewide sales tax rate for retail sales in South Carolina is 6%. Counties may impose an additional 1% local sales tax.

Guns have to meet certain criteria to qualify for the exemption. Handguns that do not fire fixed cartridges are not included, nor are "handguns generally recognized or classified as antique, curiosity, or collector's items."

But don't plan on stuffing those stockings just yet. While handguns, rifles and shotguns qualify for the exemption, accessory items will not. Gun-related items which do not qualify for the exemption, as specifically noted by the SC DOR, include ammunition, black powder, gun barrels, holsters, lasers, locks, reloading supplies and targets.

Toy handguns, toy rifles and toy shotguns are likewise specifically not included in the sales tax holiday.

You can read the entire list of what's included -- and what's not -- here (downloads as a pdf).

The sponsor of the original version of bill is Rep. Mike Pitts, R-Greenwood. He got the idea after talking to owners of a hunting outfitters shop about the state's sales tax holiday for back-to-school supplies and clothing, held in August. The idea for a gun tax holiday bill was born "to help dealers," Rep. Pitts says. He also wanted to "bring recognition to the 2nd Amendment."

Not surprisingly, Rep. Pitts is a member of several hunting clubs, including the North American Hunting Club and Gun Owners of SC. He is also a life member of the National Rifle Association (NRA), which issued him a perfect 100 NRA Political Victory Fund Rating. The NRA is, of course, thrilled with the bill, with NRA spokeswoman Alexa Fritts saying, "It allows gun owners in tough economic times to stock up on the hunting season and holiday season.

Interestingly, embattled SC Governor Mark Sanford (R) vetoed the original version of the bill in 2008 but his veto was overridden by the legislature. The Governor was careful to explain that the veto did not diminish support of the Second Amendment but rather that he did not believe that sales tax holidays were an effective method of promoting policy.

The sales tax holiday is expected to save SC gun shoppers a collective $15,000 over the weekend. Hey, every little bit helps, right?

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