Two years ago, the president of the Seattle City Council offered a rather ludicrous proposition. He wanted Seattle to place a new tax on the sale of firearms and ammunition within the city limits. Ammo would cost an additional 2-5 cents per round, and a firearm would cost an extra $25. But what was even more absurd than the tax itself, is what the money would be going toward. The tax was supposed to pay for gun violence prevention programs and research.
The way City Council President Tim Burgess explained it, this “gun violence” tax would help offset the costs the city pays to treat gunshot victims. Essentially, it was a tax levied on responsible law abiding gun owners, to pay for the actions of violent criminals.
Despite how utterly stupid that sounds, the proposal passed. However, it didn’t have the desired effect. To the surprise of no one who actually understands the relationship between private firearm ownership and crime rates, the violent crime rate in Seattle has dramatically increased since the tax was put in place. It also brought in only a small fraction of the revenue that the city council was expecting. In short, the tax was a total failure.
So it’s no surprise that the tax has faced a lawsuit over the fact that Washington has a law that prevents municipalities from regulating firearms. Unfortunately, the Washington Supreme Court recently ruled against the lawsuit on the grounds that taxes aren’t the same as regulations, and cities are well within their right to levy sales taxes.
Regardless of whether the court’s decision was right or wrong, it certainly sets a dangerous precedent. As an article from Breitbart recently pointed out, it opens a new avenue for gun control activists to hamper the Second Amendment.
On August 10 Washington’s high court sided with the City of Seattle, which adopted a “gun violence tax” in a strategy to slither around the state preemption law that placed exclusive authority for regulating firearms in the hands of the State Legislature. And this new scheme could be coming to any city that has an anti-gun rights Mayor and City Council.
In Seattle’s case, the tax is $25 on the sale of each firearm, plus two to five cents for each round of ammunition sold. This threat takes on even more sinister dimensions when one considers the potential for cities to simply up the fee. Seattle started with $25 per gun, but what if they want to raise that to $100, $500 or even $1,000?