The city council in Seattle, Washington, on Aug. 10 approved a tax on all firearm and ammunition sales while creating additional state regulations on reporting lost or stolen guns.
Members of the city council say the funds from the tax will go toward efforts to reduce gun violence in the city. Each firearm sold will have a $25 tax added and an additional 5 cents per round of ammunition, The Seattle Times reported.
City council president Tim Burgess used gun violence as his talking point in defending the added cost.
“Gun violence is a public-health crisis in our city and our nation,” he said after the vote. “City government can and must pursue innovative gun-safety measures that save lives and save money. As it has in other areas of policy, Seattle can lead the way.”
The tax itself may be illegal under Washington state law. A previous law bans any cities in the state from regulating firearm sales, something that pro-gun rights groups have stated in their case against the tax.
The National Rifle Association posted a statement on its website against the tax and targeted specifics that were not addressed by Burgess.
“The burden of regressive taxes like the Seattle proposal falls squarely on those that are least able to afford them. Persons of means will simply drive outside the city to purchase firearms and ammunition, while those without such options will be forced to go forego their rights or pay the tax,” the statement said.
Gun store owners in the city are also against the new tax. Sergey Solyanik, owner of Precise Shooter, believes the city fabricated its numbers in determining how much money the city would raise due to the added costs.
“Basically, what the city has done is that they have invented numbers,” he said. “Pretty much, all the numbers they have associated with this proposal are outright fake.”
According to the council, an estimated $300,000 to $500,000 will be raised by the new taxes. Solyanik crunched his own numbers, which came to $80,000.
“My store will definitely have to move. It would not be economically viable to stay in the city,” he said.
Solyanik could also choose to take legal action against the city, due to the council’s possible overstep on the already existing state laws. If plaintiffs can prove that the city is trying to regulate firearms rather than collect money from sales, the new taxes may fail.