Seattle’s five-year-old tax on firearms and ammunition sales to reduce murder and mayhem in the liberal Northwest city has been a spectacular failure, according to a national gun rights organization based coincidentally in nearby Bellevue that is calling for its repeal.
Describing the gun tax as “a fraud,” the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms—a national grassroots gun rights organization—was reacting to a report in the Seattle Times that revealed homicides spiked 61 percent in 2020 over the previous year.
“Seattle city leaders rammed through this gun tax over our objections back in 2015,” CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb recalled. “It has never come close to creating the tax revenue that was predicted, and the number of homicides and non-fatal shootings has not gone down. Claims that this tax would help reduce violent crime amounted to nothing more than a snake oil sales pitch.”
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According to the newspaper, interim Seattle police Chief Adrian Diaz announced Monday there were 50 murders in the city last year. However, according to SPD data, there were 52 murders. An SPD source said the discrepancy may be due to a pair of slayings being handed over to neighboring Burien after initially being investigated by Seattle detectives.
In 2019, the city logged 31 slayings, the newspaper reported. However, according to SPD data, there were 35 murders that year and 32 in 2018. Either way, last year’s dramatic increase is ample evidence of a dramatic failure of the city’s gun control law to produce the desired results. Indeed, according to Gottlieb, the gun tax is “officially a disastrous failure.”
“The tax literally drove business out of the city and into a neighboring county,” he said, “resulting in a loss of revenue, and it’s pretty clear the actual intent was to push gun stores out and make it harder for Seattle residents to purchase firearms and ammunition. Obviously, when you do that, only criminals will be armed and crime will go up.”
Compounding the problem could be highly-publicized manpower losses at SPD. Efforts to cut the department budget during last year’s summer of discontent sent many officers packing to jobs with other agencies.
There is even more to the story.
When the gun and ammunition tax was adopted, proponents forecast annual revenue between $300,000 to $500,000. CCRKBA has kept track and actual revenue has never come close. In 2016, the city collected $103,766, and in 2017 the take declined to $93,220. In 2018, the number fell again, to $75,518 but in 2019, revenue bounced up slightly to $85,352.
CFL has contacted the city about the 2020 revenue, and that data will be available around Feb. 15.
“Revenue returns have been pitiful,” Gottlieb stated, “but not nearly as pathetic as the city’s incompetence in adopting the tax in the first place. The current situation was more predictable than winter rain in Seattle.”
According to the Seattle Times, 60 percent of Seattle’s homicides last year involved firearms, while in 2019, guns were used in 66 percent of the murders.
While it might be argued that the gun tax worked by reducing the percentage of gun-related killings last year, that would be disingenuous. The other murder victims were all equally deceased.
As noted by the Seattle Times, last year saw the highest number of murders in Seattle in 26 years. That means it’s the most slayings in a single year so far this century.
The newspaper also said the number of shootings was beginning to trend downward at the end of last year. But Seattle saw more stabbings last year, too. Knives are more affordable, and there are no background checks.
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