Seattle is eating crow this week after a judge ruled that the city must release the figures showing how much revenue was generated by the unpopular “gun violence tax.”
King County Superior Court Judge Lori K. Smith said that the city had to comply with the request to release the data per the state’s Public Records Act (PRA).
City leaders were apparently stalling on publishing the numbers because the $25-per-gun and 5-cent-per-round tax has been an epic failure.
Passed unanimously by the city council in the summer of 2015, not only has the tax failed to generate the $300,000 to $500,000 dollars that proponents promised but it’s also failed to reduce gun violence, which was its ultimate objective.
In fact, data from the Seattle Police Department shows that shooting injuries have increased by 37 percent and that gun-related deaths have doubled in Seattle since the bill went into effect.
The Washington-based Second Amendment Foundation in conjunction with its publication TheGunMag.com filed the PRA lawsuit against the city.
“We are delighted with the outcome of this case,” said SAF Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb, who is also the publisher of TheGunMag.com. “It was silly for Seattle to withhold this information, but we’re pretty certain why the city did it. The council was told that this tax could generate between $300,000 and a half-million dollars, but now it appears the city has collected just over $100,000, which is an embarrassing shortfall.
“As a result,” he added, “the city has essentially lost money on this scheme because now they have to pay our attorney fees, plus a small penalty. On top of that, the city has lost tax revenue because one major gun dealer has moved out of the city and another has reported considerable sales losses. That is tax money the city will never realize.”
Judge Smith awarded SAF a nominal penalty of $377, which amounts to one dollar per day since the lawsuit was filed last year.
SAF, along with the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, is also suing to have the tax altogether thrown out. So far, tTheir suit resulted in a ruling from Superior Court Judge Palmer Rubinson that upheld the ordinance as a “lawful exercise of Seattle’s taxing authority.”
But SAF has appealed that ruling.
“We are confident that the appeals court will see this tax… as a form of gun control that is prohibited under Washington State’s 33-year old preemption statute,” said Gottlieb. “It is unconscionable for Mayor Ed Murray and the City Council to codify what amounts to social bigotry against firearms retailers and their customers. State law prevents cities from passing laws that govern firearms regulation, including sales.”
“Seattle gun owners will simply travel outside the city to make their purchases,” Gottlieb noted. “This tax will actually cost the city revenue, and affect retailers through lost sales. We’re going to the Court of Appeals for review because it is the right thing to do.”