Data contained in the Seattle Police Department’s 2021 Year-End Crime Report underscores the complete failure of Seattle’s six-year-old gun control tax on firearms and ammunition that not only hasn’t reduced violence in the city, it also has never come close to meeting projected revenue figures put forth in 2015.
According to the new report, something else the city has not wanted to acknowledge is now revealed, thanks to news coverage by KING5 News, the local NBC affiliate.
Seattle police “responded to 113 shooting or shots fired calls at or near (a homeless) encampment,” KING reported. “That’s 18% of the total 612 calls over the course of the year.”
The report says that was a 6 percent increase over 2020, when police logged 51 shootings at or near an encampment, out of 437 “shootings or shots fired calls” that year. Long story short, homeless encampments tolerated by city government over the past few years have become magnets for crime.
According to KING, “City officials say the data reveals, for the first time, a direct link between public safety and homeless encampments…Mayor Bruce Harrell also acknowledged a direct connection on Thursday.
“Yes, there is a clear correlation between the encampments,” Harrell admitted.
He said this will ignite “a new conversation” with the council about public safety.
Harrell succeeded former liberal Mayor Jenny Durkan, whose four-year term will be remembered for politically catastrophic events including the 2020 Seattle riots, creation of the so-called “CHOP zone” spanning about six blocks of the Capitol Hill neighborhood and the two homicides that occurred there, her remark on national television that 2020 would be a “summer of love,” the City Council attacks on the police budget, and the council’s quick leftward tilt spearheaded by avowed Socialist Councilwoman Kshama Sawant.
But the story not even KING is telling is about the failed gun control tax, a symptom of the larger failure of gun control statewide. Evergreen State gun owners frequently suggest on social media Washington’s recently-passed gun laws should be scrapped, and that the Legislature should repeal provisions of Initiatives 594 (2014) and 1639 (2018) that force gun owners to endure background checks even for private sales—a requirement routinely ignored by the criminal element—require proof of training to purchase a so-called “assault rifle,” and prevent anyone under age 21 to purchase a semi-auto rifle.
In 2015, when the gun tax was proposed by anti-gun former Councilman Tim Burgess, he offered revenue forecasts ranging between $300,000 and $500,000 annually. Revenues were supposed to pay for anti-violence and outreach programs. But the gun control tax has never lived up to the projection, and it actually resulted in the loss of one of the city’s top firearms retailers, which relocated first to Lynnwood in neighboring Snohomish County and then to Woodinville, back in King County, taking its Seattle customers out of the city.
- In 2016, the first full year of collection, the tax ($25 for each firearm sale and 5 cents on each round of centerfire ammunition or 2 cents for each rimfire round sold) brought in $103,766.22. There were 19 total homicides in Seattle that year.
- The following year (2017), the tax brought in $93,220.74—a decline of more than $10,000—and the city logged 27 murders.
- In 2018, the tax brought in even less–$77,518—and Seattle police reported 32 homicides for the year.
- The next year (2019), the gun/ammo tax produced $85,352 in revenue and the city experienced 36 homicides, according to Seattle police data.
- In 2020, the year of national civil unrest spurred by the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by Minneapolis police, gun and ammunition sales spiked dramatically across the country. This sales surge accounted for a jump to $184,836 in gun and ammunition tax revenue, but was accompanied by a staggering 52 murders.
- Finally, in 2021, things settled down a bit, gun and ammunition sales slowed and the city realized $165,416 in tax revenue, and murders declined to 40 for the year.
It should also be noted that in 2016, Seattle police logged 265 “shots fired” reports, resulting in 62 non-fatal shootings and 11 fatal shootings. By 2021, according to SPD data, there were 438 “shots fired” reports, resulting in 143 persons wounded and 31 killed by people misusing firearms.
There is no small irony that Seattle is headquarters to the billionaire-backed “Alliance for Gun Responsibility,” a gun prohibition lobbying group that bankrolled the 2014 and 2108 anti-gun-rights initiatives and supported other statewide gun restrictions under the guise of “gun safety” or “gun reform,” which translates to gun control. From the outset, gun rights groups including the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, headquartered in nearby Bellevue, accurately predicted all of these efforts would fail to achieve their advertised goals.
In a typical business environment, any project that consistently fails to achieve its goals or revenue forecast is usually scrapped. When it’s a gun control effort, however, proponents merely double down, contending they didn’t “go far enough” with restrictions.