U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- Frustration and fury are evident in Pierce County, Washington following a vote by the Tacoma City Council to adopt a gun and ammunition tax despite overwhelming opposition from gun-owning citizens who have now started more than a half-dozen discussions on social media.
The Tacoma News Tribune is reporting that the tax—adding $25 to the purchase of every firearm, five cents per round of centerfire ammunition and two cents per round of rimfire ammunition—is “expected to raise $300,000 annually.” It will take effect in July 2020, but is that pie-in-the-sky?
Tacoma’s gun and ammo tax is patterned after a nearly identical tax imposed in Seattle, 30 miles to the north, beginning in 2016. That tax was supposed to raise between $300,000 and $500,000 annually, but actual revenue has never come close. It took a Public Records Act lawsuit by the senior editor of TheGunMag.com, supported by the Second Amendment Foundation, to reveal the truth.
In the first year, the tax brought in $103,766.22. The following year, 2017, the tax revenue plummeted more than $10,000 to $93,220.74 and last year Seattle collected a comparatively paltry $77,518.
According to KCPQ, the local Fox affiliate, the council vote was unanimous. It came after a standing-room-only overflow crowd heard testimony for about three hours, during which speakers were limited to 90 seconds at the microphone due to the number of citizens asking to testify.
KING, the local NBC affiliate, quoted Bruce Smith manager at Surplus Ammo & Arms, explaining that the tax will add $50 to the price of a 1,000-round bulk carton of 9mm ammunition. That cost, say critics of the tax, will drive gun shops out of the city. That’s what happened in Seattle more than three years ago.
Faced with the tax, Seattle’s Precise Shooter closed its doors and moved to a new location in Lynnwood, in a different county, taking its Seattle customers along. That amounted to thousands of dollars of lost revenue to the city in the form of B&O taxes and sales taxes.
Mary Davies, owner of Mary’s Pistols, one of Tacoma’s most popular gun shops, reportedly told KING she is certain to close her doors.
“It's the principle that people will have to pay for what they think is their right,” she stated. “You would not pay a tax to vote, pay a tax for free speech.”
That sentiment can be found on social media in the wake of the council meeting.
The News Tribune quoted two council members with ominous observations:
Councilwoman Catherine Ushka reported said passing the tax was about playing “the long game” to address so-called “gun violence.”
“It gives a signal to other municipalities that it’s something that they can do,” Ushka reportedly stated.
And Councilman Ryan Mello, who sponsored the tax proposal, reportedly observed, “It is not the end of the road — it is one step we can do at the local level to sustained funding.”
But can that funding be sustained, or will it gradually dry up as is happening in Seattle?
And the greater question, which is being discussed on several Facebook threads, is whether the council adopted this tax in an effort to chase gun stores out of the city, or just out of business.
Tacoma is the third jurisdiction to adopt such a tax, the first being Cook County, Ill., which is also under Democrat control, though in Tacoma and Seattle, council positions are “non-partisan.”
Mello was quoted by KCPQ stating the tax revenue will “go toward educating kids about gun violence through different organizations in the city.”
But is there any plan to provide firearm safety education, taught by certified instructors, to Tacoma youth? According to published reports, city officials will “continue to look at the tax and work with community groups over the next several months to see what, if anything, should be changed before it's implemented.” But those groups appear to be limited to gun control proponents including “victims of gun violence.”
Council members and Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards may be in for some headaches. By Wednesday morning, their telephone numbers had been posted on Facebook.
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