Alarmed by a proposed “gun violence tax” in the city of Tacoma, Wash., several gun owners and Second Amendment activists spoke to the city council this week, and the message was clear: Don’t do it.
The issue is being discussed on Facebook. Their sentiments may have been best summed up by Tacoma resident Clinton Stewart, who challenged the council with a question.
“When are all of you,” he queried, “our elected officials, going to stop penalizing and punishing law abiding citizens for the actions of criminals? Punish the criminals, not the law-abiding citizens.”
The proposed tax would levy a fee of $25 per sale of each firearm, plus five cents for every round of centerfire ammunition and two cents for each rimfire cartridge. It is essentially a carbon copy of a gun tax adopted in Seattle four years ago that was aimed at combating so-called “gun violence.” But a look at Seattle Police Department data over the past few years suggests that the tax hasn’t discouraged people from shooting at one another.
Seattle had forecast revenue in the $300,000 to $500,000 realm but some speakers at the Tacoma meeting Tuesday evening noted that revenues have fallen far short of that prediction and are steadily declining.
Stewart warned that the tax could have a direct impact on local small business operators who sell firearms and ammunition. They would lose business and the city would subsequently lose the revenue.
“When are all of you, our elected officials, going to stop penalizing and punishing law abiding citizens for the actions of criminals?”—Clinton Stewart, Tacoma resident
Opponents of the tax have Seattle’s gun tax as an example to wave before Tacoma officials.
Speakers included longtime Tacoma resident Zachary Duncan, who described himself as a gun owner and shooting coach. If adopted, he said the tax would place a financial burden on competitive shooters, and he predicted that the tax will drive some businesses out of the city.
That’s what happened in Seattle following adoption of its tax in 2015. One of that city’s major firearms retailers moved his operation to a different county.
“I feel like we’re looking for a feel good solution for something that goes a lot deeper,” Duncan told the council. “This punishes law-abiding gun owners. I have been shooting for many years, I collect firearms, I’ve taught hundreds of kids and adults how to shoot, and it’s a frustration that the city is pushing this.”
No action was taken, and from all indications, gun owners are planning to fight this proposal for however long it takes.