What rights activists are calling a “tyranny tax” has been adopted by the Tacoma, WA city council despite heavy opposition. (Dave Workman)
Anti-gun-rights politicians in Washington State have a new weapon in their effort to discourage gun ownership: a gun and ammunition tax that financially penalizes law-abiding gun owners for crimes they did not commit, while apparently appealing to a growing segment of the state population who are transplants from somewhere else.
Evergreen State rights activists are calling it a “Second Amendment tax” or “tyranny tax,” and it could have national implications, since the idea of taxing guns and ammunition sales originated in Cook County, Ill.
It was adopted Tuesday night by the Tacoma City Council, more than three years after a similar tax was created in Seattle.
The local Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America group was celebrating the morning after, and one woman declared, “Hope other cities follow their lead.”
Therein lies a serious problem, and not just for gun owners living in Washington. Activists fear this scheme could spread to other jurisdictions where liberal anti-gun municipal politicians could find this new way to penalize law-abiding gun owners irresistible.
The unanimous vote to adopt the tax, after a majority of witnesses spoke against the proposal, came following three hours of testimony from 112 people, according to KOMO News, the local ABC affiliate. Boyd Kneeland, a Bellevue resident and Second Amendment activist who traveled to Tacoma, said opponents outnumbered supporters by a margin of “easily three-to-one.” He estimated the crowd numbered above 300, and it appeared most of them were there to oppose the tax.
Backers of the tax–$25 on the sale of each firearm, plus five cents apiece for each centerfire round and two cents per each rimfire cartridge sold—believe it will reduce so-called “gun violence” and may bring in as much as $300,000 annually, according to the Tacoma News Tribune.
However, as reported by Liberty Park Press previously, the actual number of murders in Seattle has gone up since the gun tax was approved, nearly doubling over the past three years. During Seattle’s first year of taxing guns and ammo in 2016, the city logged 18 slayings, not all of them involving guns. In 2017, as gun tax revenue declined more than $10,000, the body count went up to 29, according to Seattle Police Department statistics. Last year, as gun tax revenue dropped once again by more than $15,700 and the number of slayings jumped to 31.
Seattle’ tax revenue has never come close to the originally-predicted $300,000 to $500,000.
Seattle’s tax withstood a challenge by the Second Amendment Foundation, National Rifle Association and National Shooting Sports Foundation despite language in the city’s 35-year-old preemption law that appears to clearly prohibit such a tax.
“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.”
Reaction from gun owners on social media has ranged from disappointment to anger. Pierce County, where Tacoma is the county seat, has more than 84,500 active concealed pistol licenses in circulation, according to data from the state Department of Licensing. That number is up more than 4,500 from where it was at the beginning of the year, and it translates to voters—and consumers—many of whom live in the city and will remember this at the next election, and when they go shopping for guns and ammunition at stores outside the city.
Months ago, Seattle-based anti-gunners acknowledged that the Evergreen State has become something of a test tube for gun control efforts. While the gun prohibition lobby has been scrambling to raise money with a weekly barrage of email beg alerts, Second Amendment activists seem to be confining their activities to pushing hard to gather signatures on Initiative 1094, which would repeal gun control Initiative 1639.
Now they have another political brush fire to quell.