Second Amendment activists are putting up strong opposition to a proposed gun and ammunition tax in Tacoma, WA. (Dave Workman photo)
Western Washington Second Amendment activists are preparing for another round with the Tacoma City Council Tuesday, when that municipal body is scheduled to hear a final reading of a proposed ordinance creating a special tax on firearms and ammunition sales, ostensibly to raise money to fight so-called “gun violence.”
At the first reading, opposition to the tax among citizen speakers was about 3-to-1. According to the Tacoma News Tribune, the council’s main gun tax proponent, Councilman Ryan Mello, acknowledged, “I do not pretend to believe that this tax and these revenues are going to solve our gun violence problems in Tacoma.”
If adopted, the tax will mirror what the City of Seattle did back in 2015. It will assess a fee of $25 for each firearm sold in the city, plus 5 cents for every centerfire cartridge sold and 2 cents for each rimfire cartridge. The Tacoma council will meet beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
In an interview with the Washington State Wire, Mello seemed dismissive of the opposition.
“They belittle a lot, I think they make claims that are largely baseless like ‘what happened in Seattle was a failure’,” he stated, “and, by what standard was it a failure? In Seattle, they’re using the resources to fund public health research at Harborview Medical Center to study gun violence from a public health perspective because the federal government has defunded studies looking at gun violence from a public health perspective, so I don’t know why that’s a failure.”
What happened in Seattle after the tax was adopted essentially has been a failure, according to available police data and information obtained via a Public Records Act request and successful lawsuit filed by TheGunMag.com.
In 2016, the first full year after the gun tax was adopted, the city logged 18 homicides, not all of which were committed with firearms. That year, the city collected $103,766.22 (the revenue forecast in 2015 was between $300,000 and $500,000 annually).
In 2017, there were 29 slayings in the city, and the revenue plummeted more than $10,000 to $93,220.74, presumably due to the loss of one of the city’s two major firearms retailers, which moved out of the city to Lynnwood in neighboring Snohomish County.
Last year, the city recorded 31 or 32 slayings, depending upon the particular crime data set, so for gun tax opponents to argue the Seattle scheme failed might not be too much of a reach.
Mello’s gun tax proposal is co-sponsored by Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards and Councilwoman Catherine Ushka, the News Tribune reported.
By no small coincidence, this controversy has erupted just as Evergreen State activists are launching an initiative to the Legislature to repeal gun control Initiative 1639. That’s the measure passed in 2018 by just under 60 percent of the voters. It raised the minimum age to purchase a so-called “semiautomatic assault rifle” to 21 years, created a new crime called “Community Endangerment,” classified literally all semi-auto rifles as “assault rifles” and required proof of training in order to legally purchase such a rifle.
It also imposes a 10-day waiting period.
The repeal effort, which quickly spread statewide, is separate from the Tacoma gun tax opposition.