The Tacoma, WA city council postponed a vote on a controversial gun and ammunition tax until Nov. 12. There is huge public opposition to the tax. (Dave Workman photo)
Faced with an overflow, standing-room-only audience of alarmed and energized gun owners and rights activists, the Tacoma, WA City Council has delayed a vote on a controversial gun and ammunition tax proposal until Nov. 12, one full week after the city holds its municipal election.
According to KCPQ News, Mayor Victoria Woodards, who co-sponsored a proposed ordinance to add a $25 fee on the sale of each firearm, and a per-cartridge tax of 2 or 5 cents, told a reporter the delay is necessary to add amendments to the ordinance language.
But rights activists taking to social media think postponement is because gun owners descended on the city council meeting. The crowd was so big it spilled into the hall and an overflow room.
The proposed tax is patterned after a nearly identical tax adopted in Seattle four years ago. That tax was upheld by Washington State’s liberal state Supreme Court, despite language in the state’s 35-year-old preemption statute that appears to prohibit such fees.
“The state of Washington hereby fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation within the boundaries of the state, including the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge, and transportation of firearms, or any other element relating to firearms or parts thereof, including ammunition and reloader components. Cities, towns, and counties or other municipalities may enact only those laws and ordinances relating to firearms that are specifically authorized by state law, as in RCW 9.41.300, and are consistent with this chapter. Such local ordinances shall have the same penalty as provided for by state law. Local laws and ordinances that are inconsistent with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state law shall not be enacted and are preempted and repealed, regardless of the nature of the code, charter, or home rule status of such city, town, county, or municipality.”
Like Seattle, Tacoma plans to use revenue from the tax to reduce so-called “gun violence,” but according to KIRO News, crime has actually increased in Seattle since the tax was adopted.
Liberty Park Press reported the same thing earlier this week, using data from the Seattle Police Department. The first year Seattle collected the tax (2016), the city reported 19 homicides. In 2017, that number spiked to 28 murders and last year there were 32 killings.
Second Amendment activists were critical of the council’s decision, and were vowing to be back in the council chambers in two weeks.
Local evening talk host, Jason Rantz at KTTH, calls the proposal an “anti-gun self-defense tax.” Writing at MyNorthwest.com, Rantz argued, “The gun-related homicides (City Councilman Ryan) Mello refers to are primarily bad guys with guns. Those bad guys aren’t paying the tax or buying their guns legally most of the time. (Mello wants to tax gun owners for the luxury of protecting themselves against bad guys who, if policies like this continue spreading, will have more access to guns than law abiding citizens will.”
Mello is the proposal’s prime sponsor. He is not running for re-election to the “At Large” Position 8 on the council. He has served on the council since 2011.
In August, when news of his proposal first was publicized, Mello was quoted by the Tacoma News Tribune explaining that he wanted a higher tax on “high-velocity ammunition,” which he said included “hollow point bullets” that are “designed to pierce through body armor with the intent to kill somebody.”