SEATTLE, WA — A newly passed law in Seattle written to crack down on gun violence has backfired as violent crime continues to grip the city.
The law, which took effect on January 1, 2016, mandates a $25 tax on every firearm sold in the city and a separate tax of up to 5 cents per round of ammunition. Since it’s inception, gun violence in the city has surged and law abiding citizens have pulled back on purchasing of firearms to use for self defense due to the skyrocketing costs.
When pushing for the law to be passed, it’s author, Seattle City Councilman Tim Burgess, suggested it’s implementation would generate between $300,000 and $500,000 annually. The money, claimed Burgess, would be used to study the root causes of gun violence in hopes of reducing the costs to taxpayers.
However, according to crime statistics published by the Seattle Police Department, when comparing the first five months of 2017 with the same period before the gun tax went into effect, reports of shots fired are up 13 percent, the number of people injured in shootings climbed 37 percent and gun deaths doubled (https://www.seattle.gov/police/information-and-data).
Further, on March 16, 2017, the Seattle Times reported that Seattle city leaders were reluctant to release data on the revenue generated by the city’s firearms and ammunition tax, citing taxpayer confidentiality concerns. It was later discovered, however, that the reason the city was less than forthcoming had little to do with confidentiality. A follow up report by The Seattle Times shows the money raised fell drastically short of the figure projected by Burgess (http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/seattles-gun-sale-tax-raised-under-200000-in-first-year/).
In addition to the negative impact on crime and the lack of revenue the tax has brought in to the city, small business owners say they, too, are feeling the heat.
Gun dealer Mike Coombs, owner of Outdoor Emporium, told Fox News that gun sales in his chain of stores have plummeted 60 percent (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/06/15/seattle-gun-tax-failure-firearm-sales-plummet-violence-spikes-after-law-passes.html). “I’ve had to lay off employees because of this,” Coombs said. “It’s hurting us, it’s hurting our employees.”
On August 24, 2015, NRA, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, and the Second Amendment Foundation filed suit in King County Superior Court to prevent the city from enforcing the new tax. The NRA’s complaint cited that the tax violates both the Second Amendment and Washington State law.
Washington’s firearms preemption statute also bars Seattle’s tax. Section 9.41.290 of the Revised Code of Washington states,
“The state of Washington hereby fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation within the boundaries of the state, including the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge, and transportation of firearms, or any other element relating to firearms or parts thereof, including ammunition and reloader components.
Local laws and ordinances that are inconsistent with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state law shall not be enacted and are preempted and repealed, regardless of the nature of the code, charter, or home rule status of such city, town, county, or municipality.”
Despite NRA efforts, however, the law easily passed and now opponents say it’s the people who are suffering.
“All these gun control laws affect the wrong people,” says Dave Workman. “The gang bangers don’t go in and buy ammunition at retail, at least not around here. It certainly hasn’t stopped them from getting their hands on firearms.”