Reinforcing the belief that Washington State is now the gun control petri dish for testing every new scheme that comes along, the Tacoma City Council is scheduled to have a first reading Tuesday evening of a proposed ordinance to create a gun and ammunition tax, based on a nearly identical tax adopted in Seattle in 2015, which was patterned after the Chicago/Cook County gun tax.
It’s not a matter of “if” such a taxation on the exercise of a constitutionally-protected right is proposed in other cities around the state, and then the nation, but “when.” Critics say it’s just another way to penalize and discourage gun owners from buying and owning firearms.
Under the proposed ordinance, the proposal is designed “to raise general revenue for the City and to use that revenue to provide broad-based public benefits for the residents of Tacoma related to gun violence by funding programs that promote public safety, prevent gun violence, target youth and young adult violence prevention, and other programs intended to reduce violence and promote community healing and address, in part, the cost of gun violence in the City.”
Western Washington rights activists are burning up social media in an effort to turn out some troops for the Tuesday evening meeting. It appears consideration of the ordinance is near the end of the Tacoma City Council’s agenda.
The tax in Seattle was challenged by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, National Rifle Association and Second Amendment Foundation on the grounds that it violated Washington State’s 35-year-old preemption law. That statute prohibits local governments from passing their own gun control laws including anything to do with purchase and sale.
However, the state Supreme Court ruled that such a tax was within the authority of a municipality, opening the door for other city governments to do likewise.
Under the Tacoma proposal, a tax of $25 would be assessed for every firearm sold within the city, plus 5 cents for each centerfire round of ammunition and 2 cents for every rimfire. This, tax on a box of 20 centerfire cartridges would be $1, and likewise on a box of 50 rimfire cartridges.
When Seattle pushed through the tax, proponents predicted it would raise between $300,000 and $500,000. In reality, the first year brought in $103,766, the second year saw revenue drop to $93,220 and last year the city brought in only $77,518. The gun tax caused one of Seattle’s two major gun dealers move his business to Lynnwood, in a neighboring county. The other major shop began referring its customers to a separate store outside the city, also in another county, so the city not only lost out on the gun tax, it lost the Business & Occupation taxes as well.
Perhaps what raises the hackles of gun owners most is that they are being punished for crimes they did not commit, and made financially responsible for a problem they did not create. They also dislike the term “gun violence” because it demonizes the firearm rather than violent crime in general. For example, murders and mayhem committed with knives are never classified as “knife violence.” The media lexicon does not include the term “blunt instrument violence.” Only “gun violence” gets a special category.
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