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Seattle Gun Tax: A Legislative Failure

By  |  June 20, 2017, 02:56pm  |  @thejasonhopkins


When Seattle City Councilman Tim Burgess proposed a gun tax, he believed it would be the perfect bill for his progressive city. It was supposed to reduce crime and generate copious amounts of revenue to fund a study on gun violence. The legislation called for a $25 tax on every firearm sold within city limits and up to 5 cents per round of ammunition. The bill was passed by the city council in 2015 and took effect at the very beginning of 2016.

Like most progressive-minded ideas, the new law did not work as intended.

Burgess claimed the new tax would generate somewhere between $300,000 to $500,000 in revenue. This did not happen. We actually do not know the exact numbers because city officials are refusing to release the amount (gun rights organizations are currently suing for this information). But they have publicly admitted that number is under $200,000.

Gun dealers in Seattle are seeing their sales drop amid the new tax. Outdoor Emporium is the largest gun dealer still doing business in Seattle. Owner Mike Coombs says his sales are down 20 percent and gun sales have dropped 60 percent. Sadly, he had to let employees go because of the plummeting numbers. Many gun dealers are simply leaving the city – Coombs owns a shop in a nearby city and he is reporting great sales there.

The projected revenue was supposed to fund a study on gun violence. This is not happening. The paltry amount of money raised by the tax is apparently being kept in a holding account. The gun violence study at Harborview Medical Center is costing Seattle $550,000 – nowhere near the amount raised. The city had to withdraw from its general fund to pay for the research.

The tax was intended as a deterrent to gun crime. The opposite trend is occurring in Seattle. When we compare the first five months of 2017 to the same period before the tax took effect, individuals injured by shootings have climbed 37 percent and reports of shots fired have risen 13 percent. Gun deaths have doubled.

But, hey, in the category of virtue signaling, the Seattle gun tax succeeded with flying colors.