Aero Precision
Courtesy Aero Precision

By Larry Keane

Aero Precision, one of the nation’s leading firearm parts and accessories manufacturers, warned Tacoma, Wash., city officials their proposed punitive gun and ammunition tax would have consequences. Officials passed the proposed increases and instituted the taxes and fees.

Aero Precision answered back. The company and its 800 employees announced plans to expand and grow their manufacturing base in nearby Lakewood, Wash. Instead of investing in more jobs, more infrastructure, and more taxes paid to the City of Tacoma, Aero is literally sending their business elsewhere.

Warning Shots

Despite a recent model of abject failure from nearby Seattle, Tacoma city officials went forward with a proposal in 2019 to implement a tax increase on all firearms and ammunition. The tax increase, including $25 on all firearms and between 2-5 cents on all ammunition, was sold by officials to the public as a windfall, predicted to generate an extra $30,000 a year to “provide public benefit to residents of Tacoma related to gun violence…”

The community decried the proposal and firearm-related businesses specifically warned it would lead to job losses in the community.

“I’m certain I will close. It’s the principle that people will have to pay for what they think is their right. You would not pay a tax to vote, pay a tax for free speech,” said Mary Davies, owner of Tacoma-based Mary’s Pistols.

Several firearm-related businesses joined in voicing their concerns and Aero Precision’s CEO Scott Dover added his caution as well. “This tax will affect not only over-the-counter sales, but it will eventually affect parts and components. It will just literally put us out of business if we were to stay in Tacoma with this type of tax.”

Tacoma’s City Council didn’t listen and passed the levies. Council Member Ryan Mello complained, “I think it is fundamentally unfair for all of us who are non-gun users to bare all of the burden of gun violence in our community.”

Council Member Mello should maybe think again about the tax base and receipts community-based firearm businesses bring in. In Seattle, Outdoor Emporium fled the city after a similar tax increase the year before led to a decrease in customer traffic of 32 percent, equating to $2 million in lost revenue. That’s a lot of dollars going to city coffers to pay for non-firearm related services for the non-gun users Mello describes.

Grow Elsewhere

Aero Precision kept its word. The Tacoma City Council passed the tax proposal in 2019 to take effect in July 2020, which was later delayed until 2021 due to COVID concerns. Still, Aero Precision followed through, announcing an expansion to nearby Lakewood.

“We are very excited to be working with the City of Lakewood on our relocation,” Dover said. “The city representatives have been extremely welcoming, and we foresee Lakewood as the long-term home for Aero Precision as we continue to position ourselves as a top tier manufacturing facility in the State of Washington.”

Lakewood’s gain is Tacoma’s loss and a sizeable loss at that. Aero’s new facility is 268,000 square feet and will welcome some of the existing 800 employees and newcomers who will sustain the new growth. That’s a huge loss for Tacoma whose council members were looking for $30,000 in extra taxes.

Positive Side Effects

Aero is a major manufacturer of modern sporting rifle parts and accessories and will be just fine. With a $60 billion firearm industry economic footprint in 2019 and 2020 firearm sales reaching historically high levels, 2021 doesn’t show signs of slowing.

More than 21 million background checks for firearm sales were conducted in 2020 and over 8.4 million were sold to first-time buyers. A full 40 percent of buyers were women. Purchases by African-Americans rose 58 percent from 2019 to 2020. Firearm retailer data for 2020 shows Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs) were among the most popular firearms sold and there are over 20 million in circulation today.

Tacoma could have avoided such an impactful business blunder that’s certain to benefit Lakewood. Community firearm retailers and the firearm industry commit millions to firearm education and safety programs every year. These Real Solutions® have led to the lowest number of unintentional firearm fatalities since data was first tracked more than 100 years ago. There’s no doubt Aero Precision will continue leading in these efforts at their new facilities.

 

Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

95 COMMENTS

      • In this case it was the city messing with them, not the State. Still true that Idaho would make a better long term home.

      • Council Member Ryan Mello complained, “I think it is fundamentally unfair for all of us who are non-gun users to bare all of the burden of gun violence in our community.”

        99.999% of gun owners don’t commit crimes with their firearms. Yet the city council lays the burden at their feet. The problem isn’t the non-violent gun owners. The problem is the criminals, and the city should have put the tax on them, instead of the guns and ammo themselves. The city seems to think that the problem is the guns and the ammo, thus they taxed them. But it’s not. It is the criminals. Should have put the tax burden on them instead.

        • I would love to see a gang tax and all the head scratching as to why gangs won’t comply. Good luck enforcing it on them.

          They tax people who respect the rule of law because they know we are pushovers and they can get away with it. People who respect the rule of law usually have kids, money, a house, land, a car, something that can be stolen through force by the state and are unlikely to put their position at risk. They have businesses and licenses that can be revoked.

          Criminals though? They don’t do licenses and their wealth is a little harder to track down and steal.

        • Legislation addressing “gun violence” is always about virtue signaling and owning the cons. All while vigorously tap dancing around the demographics of violent crime.

        • This one got me too. How in the world can he equate a tax on guns and ammo to some sort of mythical “burden” that he bears every day as a non gun owner…It’s like putting a tax on car sales and gas and saying “that’s for all the bus riders who got Covid!!” How tf does that logic play out?

        • “How tf does that logic play out?”

          Very similar to wanting other undesireable behavior that puts unnecessary burden on social/community systems. Like motorcyclists. Lacking common sense safety measures (such as being surrounded by the cabin of an automobile), motorcyclists experience greater medical needs in an accident. Thus, the people who are reckless should pay extra for the unnecessary added costs to the community for their treatment.

        • Another thought, if this is supposed to be a punitive tax on “gun violence”, shooting someone is a $25 dollar penalty in Tacoma?… 😳

  1. I think they’re going it find it would have been smarter to just get the hell out of Washington state altogether in the longer run. That entire region is hostile to constitutional rights and is becoming economically non-viable.

    • While that’s true in theory, it’s a lot more difficult and expensive to replace or relocate 800 people. My guess is they were able to retain most everyone and maintain continuity of operations. Well done, AP!

      • Lakewood and Tacoma are only about 10 miles apart. Fortunately, most of their employees should be able to make the adjustment.

    • “That entire region” is about 3-4 densely populated counties out of 39 that have the most influence on policy. Defund the police? Hell, pantifa is dependent on the police for their very survival; even residents of Bellevue would not consider wasting time and energy to “arrest” a large contingent of blac-blocs invading their neighborhoods…

  2. Aero Precision is an excellent company (I own their products, I know) producing rifle parts that are totally superior to lower cost options. It would be a shame to see the company die from government abuse. They really need to move to a state that respects the 2nd Amendment and the rights given to us in the Constitution. Let’s hope Trump’s Supreme Court has the nerve to enforce our rights while under attack by a filthy, lying, DemoRat regime headed by Alzheimer’s Joe Biden.

    • The court will be packed within the next month. 3 new committed Communists will ensure that any laws the communist congress passes will be automatically found constitutional. Probably without the bother of holding those silly old hearings.

        • “Nobody has the appetite to pack the court, but they might abolish the filibuster.”

          Have you been keeping up with the “news”? The Dims certainly do have an appetite to pack the court. Such a bill would be signed by Biden because he has no personal influence with the Dims. He couldn’t stand the pressure if he vetoed “the overwhelming will of the people”.

    • You mean the same Trump’s Supreme Court that didn’t have the balls to even hear the evidence on election fraud? Pardon me if I don’t hold my breath.

  3. Tacoma, WA charges $16/$1000 assessed value for property tax. That means Aero’s facility would have to be valued at $1.8 million to completely wash out the “projected” revenue. That’s only $7/sq ft for their new 268k sq ft space, which is laughably low for commercial real estate. So with this move, Aero single handedly countered the commies’ plans. Good on ‘em, think I’m going to have to buy another lower or two.

    • If it is 85% manufacturing and warehouse, and 15% office space… and you include power, HVAC, and make it move in ready, $7/sq.ft is less than 10% of cost to have it built.

  4. They are still in liberal land so what’s the point? Waste of time & money…..Move to a state that’s still in the U.S.of A.

  5. The question is will the city council revoke the tax or the voters recall the council at the next election when it is demonstrated that the rather than gain $30k they lost multiples of that and that the crime rate was not effected one iota? I doubt it, its not about crime or money.

  6. One Large Question that needs to be answered is the Two Faced Gun and ammo companies. They want contracts with Governments but also want to sell to civilians. If the Gov’t work against the citizens, the Companies should stand up and stop working with the gov’ts, Stop offering accepting contracts and services, force distributors to stop selling ammo to them. If the police can’t get ammo, it’ll wake them the fuck up. if no one will sell guns to the police, what are they gonna do? Wake up people.

    • Well, the Soviet, Chinese, and Cuban solution to that was for the government to seize the business and run it. The Not Z solution was to put Not Z loyalists, who would do as they were told, in charge of the company while leaving it private on paper. I’m sure either one would work for Sniffin Joe and the ho.

      A 1 E’ed hoe is a tool
      A no E’ed ho is a fool
      And I am sure there is no way
      a 2 EE’ed hoee exists today

  7. While DemonRat Socialists have never met a tax they don’t like, the tax was not their point in passing this. The position of “moral superiority,” over the commoners was their goal!

    • Exactly. $30k in tax revenue is pocket change for a city the size of Tacoma. But Tacoma has always been a poor cousin to Seattle.

  8. What does being a non-gun owner, or even a gun owner, for that matter, have to do with so-called gun violence? That’s criminal activity. It’s the criminal behavior which is at issue, not some passive status and superficial similarity as being a gun owner.

    • “What does being a non-gun owner, or even a gun owner, for that matter, have to do with so-called gun violence?”

      Quite simple, actually: no guns, no gun crime.

      Now, just to acknowledge that things are just a teensy bit more complex, taking guns from law abiding citizens reduces the number of people who are likely to become criminals with guns. Criminals already possessing guns is a problem too difficult to manage. Let nature sort things out.

      • The Dims are against guns EXCEPT for their personal security details.

        Chris Cuomo of CNN even owns a gun.

        Orwell–All people are equal but some people are more equal than others.

  9. Nothing says welcome to the party like trip wires and Claymores, throw in a little incendiary and it’s a down right fiesta. zzzzip zip ping

  10. The whole point of the tax was not to raise revenue but to eliminate and migrate the gun business. Once gun businesses are herded on the “reservation”, they will be ripe for the kill. We’re two steps behind as usual.

  11. Good.

    I applaud them for trying to keep their employees.

    It would have certainly been easier to move far away to a free state.

  12. “You would not pay a tax to vote, pay a tax for free speech”

    Mary Davies is partly correct, of course. Still, she is missing a point on Free Speech. To do anything more than speak words aloud, you are taxed. We have always been taxed for the tools of free speech that reach beyond the range of our own voice. Such as pen and paper or their modern equivalents in the electronic, mass media, inter-webs era. There are local to State level sales taxes most anywhere you go.

    But a tax to vote? Only unconstitutional, repressive tax by scheming low-lifes.

    That is the point on which a legal challenge would be very interesting. As the Second Amendment enumerated rights can only be exercised by the purchase of the arms and ammunition to do so, or the materials to make such yourself, could it not be said that any manner of local, State or Federal tax upon that means or materials is un-Constitutional?

    This notion has probably been tried already. Wonder how it fared?

    • “Mary Davies is partly correct, of course. Still, she is missing a point on Free Speech. To do anything more than speak words aloud, you are taxed. We have always been taxed for the tools of free speech that reach beyond the range of our own voice. Such as pen and paper or their modern equivalents in the electronic, mass media, inter-webs era. There are local to State level sales taxes most anywhere you go. ”

      You are comparing apples and oranges. Gun and ammo buyers are already paying sales tax plus wildlife restoration tax. The Tacoma tax is comparable to charging sales tax plus another $25 per computer and 2-3 cents per pencil purchased.

  13. I really like AP products…no complaints. A short move for AP is better than no move.
    Every gun owner should do business whenever possible with people who share their values. Some good people are stuck in rathole states and those who are deserve support.
    When 75,000,000 people are careful about who gets their money some election fraud democRats are going to feel pain.

  14. Geez ammo & gun tax…shades of CROOK Co. It didn’t help. Cook is awash in debt as is this brokeass state. Leftards never learn. Good luck AERO Percision!

  15. Good for them. Take the jobs and tax revenue and go to a free state. Hopefully the folks working for the company can pull up stakes and move with them. I hate to see good people loosing their jobs but I love standing up for your rights.

  16. Firearms and ammo manufacturers need to stop selling to the blue governments and now the feds with Biden in there. Plus get off of Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Google.

    No different than Google working with China and not the US govt.

  17. All that for $30,000, is that figure correct? I don’t doubt demtards would screw over their community for money, no matter how little, but wow…

  18. I was in Post Falls, Idaho yesterday, It borders Spokane, in Eastern Washington. They are so close, you almost can’t tell where Post Falls starts and Spokane ends. Gasoline was 50 cents cheaper a gallon in Idaho. Washington has the seventh highest gas tax in the nation.

    If Aero Precision wanted to stay in Washington I am surprised that they haven’t relocated to central Washington. Communities like Wenatchee or Moses Lake, Wa. which have the lowest electrical power rates in the nation. Moses Lake airport has one of the longest runways in north America, (used for large jet pilot training as well as a emergency site for the Space shuttle landing). ), a large Railhead and is along Interstate 90 for ease of transportation. Because of the cheap hydroelectric power, many large server farms from Google, Yahoo etc, have set up shop nearby community of Quincy, WA. I am surprised a business like Aero Precision stayed on the west side of Washington, Also referred to as the “Dark Side”.

    • There’s a bill in committee that proposes to split in two and form the new State of Liberty in the eastern 2/3. If we get super lucky (not counting on it, but we can dream) and it actually happens, Moses Lake is probably the capital of the 51st state. Or maybe 52nd. If Puerto Rico really does want in, balancing its retarded socialist voters with a new conservative state might be the horse trading that helps get Congress on board.

      • On a different tangent, what is happening in Washington about the $30.00 license tabs. For those who don’t know, Washington voters approved a $30.00 vehicle license tabs which the state attorney general and his liberal cronies fought down and now Washingtonians are paying sometimes three times that rate for license fees per year. So yes, in Washington, your vote means nothing. Meanwhile the Governor, Jay Inslee was determined to be the worst fiscal responsible governor of all 50 states, spending money like a drunken sailor in a brothel. (My apology to those in the Navy).

  19. I get a chuckle out of the people here who are still pitching the “good thing they moved/time to move to a free state” line. Did any of you pay attention to what just happened in the Federal elections?

    It’s a sad, broken chuckle, but it’s all I’ve got at this point.

  20. I used to love hearing the “we are the frontline behind enemy lines” comments from people in commie states. They will tax you until you die, and seize your assets after you are broke. The nation is moving towards this. States need to secede.

  21. I hope a better legal mind then mine can explain to me how this tax is not challenged on the constitutional merits. The way I understand it in Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105 (1943) a state or city can not tax a constitutional right. That was a first amendment case. Why can’t the same augment be made for the second amendment. It’s obvious its designed to discourage citizens from exercising their constitutional right in much the same way.

    Good on Aero for sticking to their promise to move if the taxes were to stay. Seattle is a 1/3 the people on the street compared to 2019. I was at the Pike Place market a few weekends ago. It was sad. I don’t see it coming back to those precovid levels anytime soon. Tacoma is not much better. I heard today Sound Transit ridership is down 80% from a year ago. State ferry ridership was off like 40% too. I guarantee you that the sales tax will be down just as much. But their solution is to raise the gasoline tax by 18 cents a gallon to make up for the short falls. Knowing the area, the move to Lakewood is a good move.

    • Taxing objects is not the same as taxing a “right”. You can still buy the objects, but, like any other object sold at retail, you pay a tax*. However, taxes are not necessary; fees do the same thing, and dodge the constitution question.

      *”Special Use” taxes are pretty cool because they allow for different levels of tax, based on public need (“compelling interest”).

      Even the Leftists are not dumb enough to create a “Second Amendment Tax”.

  22. A couple of years ago, I’d probably agree this was an economic blunder/case of unintended consequences. Now, I’m not so sure.

    Buy me a tinfoil hat, but it would not surprise me if the gun ammo tax was really intended to get companies like Aero Precision to leave. Politicians aren’t always the brightest bulbs, but they are rarely fools. I think most of the council members supporting the tax knew it was going to be a losing prospect from a revenue standpoint. But if it achieved the goal of hurting the hated firearms industry locally, it’s a win.

    It’s not like any of these council critters is going to feel the pinch from the loss of revenue. If there’s one thing we’ve seen in the past year from the more arbitrary and excessive actions taken by some politicians in response to COVID-19, it’s that they don’t really worry too much about the impact it has on a business owner. Their government paycheck will keep right on coming no matter what.

    • Everyone has two reasons for doing something: One that sounds good, and a real one. I’m pretty sure that’s the real one.

      Idaho is a fine state, and I’ve lived here all my life. But it’s not for everyone, and it’s tough for families to just uproot and move. Lakewood is only five miles from Tacoma, so it’s a lot easier on the employees.

      Besides, I doubt anybody is going to close our western border, so if Aero eventually feels like coming here, they are welcome.

  23. Moving to a different city, but staying in the state is only a short term solution. Washington is going full marxist and you can bet the state government is eyeballing doing this state wide. If they were smart they would move to a red state.

  24. Council Member Ryan Mello complained, “I think it is fundamentally unfair for all of us who are non-gun users to bare all of the burden of gun violence in our community.”

    That should be “bear”, not “bare”.

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