SONZINSKY V. UNITED STATES, 300 U. S. 506 (1937)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Sonzinsky v. United States, 300 U.S. 506 (1937)

Sonzinsky v. United States

No. 614

Argued March 12, 1937

Decided March 29, 1937

300 U.S. 506


1. That part of the National Firearms Act which provides that every dealer in firearms shall register and shall pay an annual tax of $200 or be subject to fine and imprisonment is a valid exercise of the taxing power of Congress. Pp. 300 U. S. 511 et seq.

The term "firearm" is defined by § 1 of the Act as meaning a shotgun or rifle having a barrel less than eighteen inches in length, or any other weapon, except a pistol or revolver, from which a shot is discharged by an explosive, if capable of being concealed on the person, or a machine gun, and includes a muffler or silencer for any firearm.

Page 300 U. S. 507

2. Congress may select the subjects of taxation, choosing some and omitting others. It may impose excise taxes on the doing of business. P. 300 U. S. 512.

3. The tax upon dealers, supra, is not in the category of penalties imposed for the enforcement of regulations beyond the scope of congressional power. P. 300 U. S. 513.

4. A tax may have regulatory effects and may burden, restrict or suppress the thing taxed and still be within the taxing power. P. 300 U. S. 513.

5. Courts may not inquire into the motives of Congress in exercising its powers; they will not undertake, by collateral inquiry as to the measure of the regulatory effect of a tax, to ascribe to Congress an attempt, under the guise of taxation, to exercise another power denied by the Federal Constitution. P. 300 U. S. 513.

6. The Court declines to consider petitioner's contentions not supported by assignment of error. P. 300 U. S. 514.

86 F.2d 486 affirmed.

Certiorari, post, p. 648, to review a judgment affirming a conviction under the National Firearms Act.

Page 300 U. S. 511

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