Seattle has been charging a $25 per firearm tax on guns (not to mention two to five cents per round of ammunition) sold in the city since it was approved by the city council back in 2015. The legal warriors at the Second Amendment Foundation along with the NRA sued the city, arguing that the tax is de facto gun control, violating the state of Washington’s preemption law which prohibits municipalities from enacting gun control measures at the local level.
But the state supreme court didn’t see it that way. From seattletimes.com:
The justices ruled 8 to 1 to affirm a previous decision by the King County Superior Court, which sided with the city against opponents, including the National Rifle Association. …
The majority opinion concluded in part that the city’s ordinance does impose a tax, rather than a regulation, on firearms “because its primary purpose is to raise revenue for the public benefit.”
Uh huh. The Seattle city council’s sole purpose in enacting the tax was to raise funds. It had nothing at all to do with running the few remaining gun stores out of the city and pricing firearms out of the range of lower income citizens. Oh, by the way, I have a lovely Space Needle I’d like to sell you.
SAF’s main man Alan Gottlieb isn’t pleased:
“This isn’t just a loss for the rule of law, firearms dealers and gun owners living in Seattle,” Gottlieb said. “It’s a slap in the face to the Washington Legislature. In 1983, state lawmakers adopted the state’s preemption act, which squarely put all firearms regulation under authority of the Legislature. It is clear from this ruling that the Legislature will have to strengthen the preemption act to not only nullify what amounts to an unconstitutional poll tax on gun owners, but to also make sure this is not allowed to happen again.”
We won’t hold our breath.
Remember that the ruse used at the time the tax was proposed was that the levy would raise as much as half a million dollars. Seattle’s city fathers would then, in their infinite wisdom, invest that pot of lucre in “gun-violence research as part of an effort to stop it.”
But as government entities are wont to do, the tax’s proponents — led by city council president Tim Burgess — estimated the resulting revenues using static analysis. In other words, they didn’t take into account the effect the tax would have in reducing gun sales in the city. Raise the price of guns, and fewer people will buy them.
Wait, who are we fooling? Of course they took that into account. They knew exactly what the tax would do in terms of driving the retail gun businesses out of their city. Which explains why the fought so long and hard against releasing the actual total of receipts their
stealth gun control law sham of a tax brought in.
Seattle residents, being the rational beings they are, acted as the the laws of economics dictate rational actors will. Looking to pay less, they went outside the city to buy their firearms. And stores within the city limits got out.
So the the Emerald City has rid itself of some icky gun stores. Never mind that the move had no effect on the city’s crime rate. Somehow criminals still manage to get their hands on firearms. As for that valuable gun violence research the city said they’d be funding…we’re sure that data will be released any time now.