The Seattle City Council is considering a tax on guns and ammunition with plans to use money from sales to fund “gun violence prevention.”
The measure is being pushed by City Council president Tim Burgess.
According to The Seattle Times, Burgess said, “Gun violence is very expensive” and pointed to the “[cost] of treating 253 gunshot victims at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center” in 2014. He said the cost was “$17 million,” and said that taxpayers paid “$12 million” of the price tag.
Burgess added, “It’s time for the gun industry to help defray those costs and this is a very reasonable way to do it.”
The immediate problem with Burgess’s assertion that the gun industry will not be paying the taxes—rather, law-abiding citizens who buy guns and ammo at Walmart, Cabelas, Bass Pro Shops, various gun stores, and other retail outlets, will have to pay, as prices will be raised to cover the $25 per gun and 5 cents per bullet.
The second and equally important problem is that the tax—considered in a punitive manner—will not reach the people who are committing crime because gang members do not frequent Walmart, Cabelas, Bass Pro Shops, etc. They buy their guns and ammo on the streets.
Therefore, this is a solution that punishes those who are not part of the problem. But the Washington Alliance for Gun Safety supports the push, saying, “We often attach taxes to things that cause harm to our communities and we know that guns are causing harm.”
Ironically, Washington state has a preemption statute that forbids municipalities from passing regulations that impact “registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge, and transportation… or any other element” of firearm ownership or commerce. So, Burgess admits that the city of Seattle will likely be sued if his proposed tax passes.
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