Seattle’s Gun and Ammunition Tax Falls Short of Revenue Projections Again…Still

second amendment tax holiday

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By Larry Keane

Seattle’s so-called “gun violence tax” continues to fall far short of the promised returns. Recent figures show that while there was a slight bump in taxes collected, the only thing the tax succeeded in doing was driving constitutionally-protected gun businesses from the city limits.

The tax is in its fourth year and has yet to live up to expectations. In 2015, Seattle’s city council approved a $25 tax on every gun and 5 cents on each round of ammunition sold. The architects of the plan promised it would bring in $500,000 annually that would be used toward gun violence research at the city’s Harborview Medical Center.

Numbers Don’t Lie

It’s yet to even come close to that goal. Last year, the city collected $85,352, which is only $7,800 more than the $77,518 collected in 2018, according to a report from the Second Amendment Foundation.

NSSF, along with SAF and NRA challenged the tax on state preemption grounds, but courts in Washington state upheld it. The three organizations knew the tax was actually a form of gun control, which can only be administered by the state and not municipalities. It also punishes law-abiding citizens for the criminal activities of others. NSSF predicted the tax would fail. Four years running, that’s held true.

The first that year tax figures were available was 2016, which saw just $103,766 collected. The next year, figures fell to $93,220 and 2018 saw them at just $77,518. This year’s collections report of $85,352 is a slight rise, but if the back-of-the-napkin math is correct, it is still short by $414,648 of what Seattle city council gun control politicians promised.

Net Effect

Here’s what the tax really did. It drove profitable gun businesses out of the city limits. Outdoor Emporium moved out of Seattle after the owner saw a loss of $2 million in revenue, a 32 percent decline in customer traffic and was forced to lay off three employees. Precise Shooter, another business that was located in Seattle, shuttered their store and opened up in nearby Lynnwood.

Seattle skyline

Bistock

Bad ideas aren’t confined to Seattle. Nearby Tacoma picked it up for themselves too. Aero Precision, a firearm parts producer that employs 400 in Tacoma, spoke out against the regressive tax, but city officials pushed it through.

The tax in that city was set to take effect in July, but a panel required to study Seattle’s tax wasn’t able to be formed due to the coronavirus restrictions. That plan was put on the shelf and with protests turning violent, it’s not looking like city officials there will be able to get it moving soon.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is no one who designed or approved this plan actually believed it would work. They knew a half-million dollars in tax revenue was a political pipe dream. The real goal was to send the message – and political punishment – to constitutionally-protected businesses that their commerce wasn’t welcome.

They won’t admit they knew all along it wouldn’t raise anything close to their target tax goal. They won’t admit that Seattle has a crime problem, witnessed during the riots when a private security contractor rushed in with his own handgun to seize a stolen service rifle from a rioter that stole it from a burning police vehicle.

They knew their promised research of so-called “gun violence” prevention was as sketchy as their plan to tax gun stores out of the city. They also knew that what they wanted weren’t real solutions. They wanted gun control and political posturing.

 

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

comments

  1. avatar The Rookie says:

    “The bottom line is no one who designed or approved this plan actually believed it would work.”

    Yup. 100%

    1. avatar Get Down Do You? says:

      Yet another incisive post by ‘The Rookie’. At which top tier institution did you matriculate?

    2. avatar Southern Cross says:

      Progressives take the world as they wish it to be and not as it is. That is their major failing in that if there is ever a clash between reality and ideology, ideology always wins.

  2. avatar LarryinTX says:

    Here, let me math a little for you. If it raised $85K, but you want 6X that, simply increase the tax 6X, that will work just fine! So, since $25 was a total failure, certainly a tax of $150/gun will be a rousing success! In return for my brilliance, please add another $25 for me, making the total $175/gun. This government stuff is fun!

    1. avatar Gene says:

      By Jove, I think you figured out the situation. If we don’t get what we want raise the fees. Sounds logical to the Liberals who have screwed up the entire West Coast. Maybe instead of hoping Calif. fall off into the Pacific we could have the entire coast fall off. They could then establish their own Socialist country and leave we freedom loving people alone. Living in NY I sympathize with all the freedom loving AMERICANS in the three Western States. Wherever there are large cities there is large amounts of welfare and those people vote their paycheck i9n lieu of the best person for the job.

    2. avatar Dude says:

      Using that same logic, people with zero skill just starting out working at McDonald’s can’t afford to pay their rent or take care of their children, so let’s just raise the nationwide minimum wage to $15/hr. Really $15 per hour is just scraping by, so why not $20 per hour, heck why not $25? I guess taking the time to develop a marketable skill and securing a job before starting a family is just too much to ask.

      1. avatar Huntmaster says:

        I think you might be onto something here, all kidding aside. McDonald’s sells over 2.3 billion hamburgers a year. Overall there are over 50 billion burgers sold by everybody in a year. If we just taxed each one by 10 dollars that would raise over $500,000,000,000. And there is probably a serving of fries with every other burger. Taxing the fries at five dollars and order would bring the total raised to 750,000,000,000. And if we just earmarked all that money to pay off the National debt, we could be done in thirty years.

        1. avatar Mason says:

          Glad I’m Vegan.

        2. avatar Dude says:

          You sir – are a genius!

  3. avatar Darkman says:

    “The power to tax involves the power to destroy”. Chief Justice John Marshal
    The Power to Tax is the Power to Destroy | National Center for Constitutional Studies
    https://nccs.net/blogs/articles/the-power-to-tax-is-the-power-to-destroy

  4. avatar TheUnspoken says:

    It worked perfectly, those icky gun dealers are out of city limits and “harder” to buy those guns, and even if the dealers stay, the tax makes it harder for people to buy guns and the government gets the cash. So win, win, win for them either way. Just needed that dishonest justification to get it rammed through, just like I-1639. How many crimes has that stopped?

    1. avatar DinWA says:

      I-1639 *is* a crime!

      1. avatar Broke_It says:

        Because of I-1639 I’m not wasting the time and money to renew my cpl. I can stuff a gun in my pants with or without a piece of paper, never been required to produce it in 15 years of licensed carry anyway. Now that it no longer allows me to take possession upon purchase of a new pistol fuck it. I feel safer already!

  5. avatar Mark N. says:

    Heck, in four years it hasn’t raised $500,000. Adding it up it comes to $359,856.
    Same thing in cook county. The tax there was more successful since the county is so big that it is a pain to drive out of it to go to a store outside the county. Seattle isn’t that large, and getting out of town takes only a few minutes. Tacoma used to be pretty conservative by comparison–but I guess no longer.

    1. avatar former water walker says:

      LOL…I have NEVER paid the $25 Cook handgun slush fund tax. Or bought any ammo with 5 cent per boo-lit tax. In 9 years. And I’ve bought more than 10 guns since this bs was passed. Indiana&Will county my friend!

  6. avatar John Davies says:

    “Seattle isn’t that large, and getting out of town takes only a few minutes.“
    LOL, You certainly aren’t referring to Seattle Washington, maybe some other Seattle…..

    1. avatar Colt Magnum says:

      It helps to know the back roads! I-5 is a mess, though.

    2. avatar CarlosT says:

      Hell, getting from one end of Ballard to the other sometimes takes half an hour if you take the wrong route.

      But, yeah, making the drive out to Bellevue or some place like that isn’t that big a deal in the grand scheme of things.

  7. avatar Ralph says:

    Go antifa! Start with City Hall.

  8. avatar Defens says:

    Maybe they should start charging $0.05 tax on every projectile discharged in the big city? Probably more potential revenue to be earned there than by taxing sales.

  9. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    A Washington state voter.
    “No big deal. I want my marijunan intoxication. It was an equal trade for my gun rights.”
    “I vote for pot. Not for guns.”

  10. avatar Hankus says:

    Just another Seattle failure. Business as usual.

    1. avatar DanC says:

      If they really need the money they will tax the pot.

      1. avatar Hankus says:

        I’m pretty sure they do, and there’s also the huge tax that was imposed when the state relinquished control of liquor stores. As one would expect, this money is merely absorbed by the liberal sponge government. They perform their magic act and make it disappear.

        1. Yes, I went to the pot store to buy CBD ointment for pain control prior to hip surgery. The tiny jar (maybe 2 ounces) cost over $40. Talking with the clerk he said the product cost $25 and the remainder (over $15 ) was tax. So about 60% tax…

        2. avatar DinWA says:

          The “spirits” tax in WA is 20.5% plus the volume tax of $3.77 per liter.
          So a 1.75 liter bottle of gin with a shelf price of $20 becomes $30.70 with the $4.10 sales tax plus $6.60 volume tax.
          A nice $60 750ml scotch would come with $12.30 sales plus $2.83 volume taxes to make $75.13 at checkout.
          Liquor stores near the borders of ID and OR see a lot of Washingtonians.
          There’s more. I blame the gin for my rambling.
          https://taxfoundation.org/guess-which-state-has-highest-liquor-taxes-nation/

        3. avatar DinWA says:

          …near the border *in* ID and OR…

        4. avatar Someone says:

          Kenneth, 37.5%

  11. avatar Aven says:

    I would bet with the moving or closing of gun shops in Seattle, with the loss of sales tax revenue and property tax revenue, they are losing far more per year than they have gained by the taxes they imposed on guns and ammo.

    1. avatar RCC says:

      There are two Cabelas About 30 miles north and south of Seattle. Built there just after this tax came in if my memory is correct

      1. avatar Colt Magnum says:

        The Cabelas in Lacey and the one in Tulalip were built before Seattle’s tax.

  12. avatar Ernie Leimkuhler says:

    Outdoor Emporium is still open in Seattle.
    It is the only gun store left within the Seattle city limits.

    1. avatar neiowa says:

      What REI pansy granola crunchers didn’t open a firearms section in order to support the tax plans of their prog buddies.

  13. we need to tax the democraps. we can call it the communist tax, since that is really what all of them are.

  14. avatar possum says:

    Mercury contaminated Salmon. Fish heads fish heads, rollie pollie fish heads. eat them up yum

    1. avatar billy-bob says:

      I took a fish head out to a movie, I didn’t pay to get him in…

      1. avatar DinWA says:

        They don’t wear sweaters or play baseball…

  15. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    As gun control is unConstitutional and a failure this scheme was doomed to failure from the git go.

    1. avatar Hankus says:

      Yet the WA state judicial system deemed it to be legal. What does that tell you?

  16. avatar MADDMAXX says:

    Problem is that people who own guns usually also OWN CARS and can easily drive to a store outside the city to buy guns and ammo… Fucken idiots outsmarted by the “unwashed masses”

  17. avatar Chiefton says:

    They gained just under $90,000 in gun taxes but lost millions in revenue from businesses and their employees moving out of the city. Pure brilliance. They showed gun owners a thing or two there.

    1. avatar Someone says:

      That doesn’t matter to an idealist. It’s pure thoughts and great intents that count, never mind the results.

  18. avatar Wally1 says:

    They knew it would never ever reach projects. they do not care about victims. it was all about removing gun stores from the city of Seattle. There were some gun shops outside of the city giving a 10% discount for Seattle residents who bought a gun from them. Seattle has become a cesspool. Good for liberals, bad for the rest of the state. .

  19. avatar Debbie W. says:

    Those tax hungry democrats think everyone is just going to roll over and play dead for every insane idea they have. Solution? Do not spend one dime more than you have to in Seattle. You may not be able to move but you are mobile so drive to areas where you and your business are appreciated.

  20. avatar Sam in Ohio says:

    I have an additional question which assumes that there was already a local sales tax on goods sold and a local income tax in Seattle:

    “What was the loss in other tax revenue when gun businesses moved out of Seattle?”

    In short, is the net effect a loss of tax revenue for Seattle?

    People forget history. Once upon a time, Cleveland was the home of millionaires. The Rockefellers lived their back in the day. Then, one day, the City of Cleveland decided to enact a 1% income tax on those who made more than $1 million per year. All of the millionaires moved and this was perhaps the real “Mistake on the Lake”…

    1. avatar Colt Magnum says:

      Seattle’s sales tax is currently at 10.1%. There is no income tax.

  21. avatar Daniel S. says:

    It appears based on the numbers provided; they are about $1.6 million short in 4 years . . . sounds like a typical Government run program . . .

    1. avatar Southern Cross says:

      Does the program even cover it’s own costs?

  22. avatar Dude says:

    FWIW, I’ve talked to people who work at one of the gun shops that relocated out of city limits. They tell me that in the years after the move they’re now selling more guns to Seattle residents than they did when located in city limits.

    So even the “plan” of pushing gun stores out of the city to limit guns is failing.

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