While the City of Seattle remains mum about the revenue it has, or has not, realized from a year-old “gun violence tax” on firearms and ammunition sold in the city, the largest firearms retailer in Seattle is not being so quiet.
He thinks the city has lost a lot of tax revenue, although a story at SeattleP-I.com says the city appears to be making up the losses. However, when the gun tax was hastily adopted in 2015, its backers said the money would be earmarked for “gun violence” programs including research and education.
Mike Coombs, owner of the Outdoor Emporium, told Conservative Firing Line and TheGunMag.com that he has had to lay off at least two employees, and his sales receipts are off by $1.7 million this year. He further noted that he has written checks to the city so far this year totaling more than $60,000.
However, that’s a far cry from the $300,000 – $500,000 that gun tax proponents predicted would be raised annually. TheGunMag, a publication owned by the Second Amendment Foundation, has filed a lawsuit along with SAF, to make the city disclose its gun tax revenue. The city has declined to do that, and has also declined a request from the SeattleP-I.com for the same information.
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Coombs thinks the city simply does not want to acknowledge that the revenue is falling far short of the forecast.
He has challenged the city to use gun tax revenue to help finance his lock box program. This effort provides gun lock boxes at cost to Children’s Hospital. These lock boxes are given to gun owners for storage, and Coombs said this type of program will save more lives than all the research Seattle allegedly wants to fund.
Coombs unabashedly sends his customers to his other store in Fife if they want to purchase firearms or large quantities of ammunition. He noted that in the past, he would have some customers who would purchase cases or even pallets of ammunition for shooting trap, skeet or other recreation, but those sales have dried up at the Outdoor Emporium.
According to the SeattleP-I.com article, Seattle attorney Steven Fogg, who is representing SAF, the National Rifle Association and National Shooting Sports Foundation in a challenge of the gun tax, thinks the tax “has always been a charade.” Fogg also represents SAF and TheGunMag.com in their separate public records act request lawsuit.
His theory, which is shared by critics of the gun tax, is that the city adopted the tax simply to drive firearm and ammunition sales out of Seattle. The legal challenge to the tax asserts that it violates the state preemption statute because it is a gun control scheme rather than just a sales tax on guns.
SAF, NRA and NSSF are joined in the lawsuit by Outdoor Emporium and another gun shop, which has since moved out of the city. They lost at trial, and have appealed, but the court of appeals sent the case up to the state Supreme Court.