Seattle City Council President Tim Burgess is proposing a new sales tax on guns and ammunition in an effort to curb gun violence.
The tax would amount to $25 per gun and 5 cents for every round of ammunition. The ammunition tax equals roughly $2.50 per box of handgun ammunition.
Gun owners say the tax adds up quickly, and makes the hobby of shooting at ranges much more expensive.
Burgess wants to use the revenue to fund gun violence research and prevention programs. The city estimates the taxes would raise $300,000 to $500,000 annually.
The medical costs of treating 253 gunshot victims at Harborview Medical Center last year was $17 million. Taxpayers paid more than $12 million for their unpaid medical bills, Burgess said. The new revenue would be used to fund a two-year gun violence prevention program at the medical center, reports Komo News.
“We tax cigarettes and alcohol and even wood-burning stoves for public health purposes. Why not guns and ammunition?” Burgess said.
He acknowledges the issue is touchy and could face legal challenges, as Washington is one of 43 states that prohibit local gun ordinances. Gun rights supporters say both state law and the Constitution prohibit cities from regulating guns.
Sergey Solyanik, owner of Precise Shooter in Seattle, told King 5, “It’s not going to reduce or change in anyway the amount of available ammunition or guns in the streets."
He added, "It will simply force me to move.”
Other gun shop owners told the Seattle City Council’s Education and Governance Committee that the tax would send their customers out of the city and would not bring new revenue.
The national Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence does not track gun taxes because they do not consider them effective at preventing gun violence, according to staff attorney Allison Anderman.
“The idea that someone can afford a gun and not a $25 tax so therefore they’re not going to buy a gun doesn’t make sense to me,” Anderson said.
The second proposal from Burgess requires mandatory reporting of lost or stolen firearms and impose a $500 fine on gun owners who do not tell authorities, reports King 5.
Both sides of the tax issue seem to agree with that proposal. Anderman said her group would endorse the idea because such measures have been shown to prevent gun trafficking between states.