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Mars Equipment Corp. v. United States

decided: July 21, 1978.

MARS EQUIPMENT CORPORATION, AN ILLINOIS CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 74 C 3576 - John F. Grady, Judge.

Pell and Wood, Circuit Judges, and Harper, Senior District Judge.*fn*

Author: Wood

WOOD, Circuit Judge.

The principal question presented in this appeal is whether Treasury Regulation § 48.4181-2(c) constitutes a reasonable definition of a "firearm" as that word is used in Section 4181 of the Internal Revenue Code to the degree that it is interpreted to include antique muzzle-loading guns and replicas thereof. The district court upheld the regulation in question and we affirm.

Mars Equipment Corporation imports and sells antique guns and replicas of muzzle-loading antique guns. From 1968 through 1970 Mars paid $37,019.70 in excise taxes imposed on the sale of firearms by Section 4181 of the Internal Revenue Code. Mars then filed this suit in the district court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1346(a)(1) for a refund of the taxes paid on the grounds that antique guns and replicas are not "firearms" within the meaning of that section. The district court granted the government's motion for summary judgment, from which Mars now appeals. We have jurisdiction of the appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1291.

I.

Section 4181 of the Code provides that:

There is hereby imposed upon the sale by the manufacturer, producer, or importer of the following articles a tax equivalent to the specified percent of the price for which so sold:

Articles taxable at 10 percent --

Pistols.

Revolvers.

Articles taxable at 11 percent --

Firearms (other than pistols or ...


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