Seattle Gun Tax Turning Out to be Another Miserable Gun Control Failure

A $25-per-gun, 5-cent-per-round tax imposed by the city of Seattle to prevent gun-related violence and raise revenue has failed at both goals. The revenue generated by the tax is significantly below lawmaker’s estimates, and gun-related violence has risen sharply since the law’s introduction.

The city initially declined to reveal how much revenue the tax had raised since 2015, but after media pressure in March, a city official sent an estimate to the Seattle Times. The Times published an excerpt of the email, which they had received from city councilman Tim Burgess, stating, “During its first year, the firearms and ammunition tax payments received by the City were less than $200,000.”

When Burgess initially proposed the legislation in August, 2015, the city predicted that the tax would generate $500,000 per year in revenue.

Despite requests by local media outlets, the city of Seattle has refused to release specific numbers on how much revenue was raised by the controversial tax.

Worse still, the city of Seattle has seen a significant spike in gun-related deaths. New 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. When Fox News published the numbers, the Seattle City Council refused to comment.

When the ordinance was proposed by Burgess in July, 2015, it passed the city council by unanimous vote. The proposal included nearly two full pages of statistics on gun-related violence, with the stated purpose of the tax to “provide broad-based public benefits for residents of Seattle related to gun violence by funding programs that promote public safety [and] prevent gun violence…” The ordinance specifically imposed a $25 per firearm tax, and an additional 2 to 5 cents per round of ammunition.

When the legislation passed, it was met with praise from gun-control advocates. Eleanor Clift, a writer at The Daily Beast, praised the tax in a piece titled “Want Fewer Murders? Tax Guns and Ammo.” She described the NRA as a gun lobby that “wholly owned” state legislatures, and argued that Seattle’s tax was just one part of a wave of “common-sense gun laws” she hoped were forthcoming.

But the National Rifle Association (NRA), Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), and National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) contested the ordinance in August, 2015. Their 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 the fight is far from over. “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 Alan Gottlieb, founder of SAF, a plaintiff in the suit. He also condemned the ordinance as “social bigotry against firearms retailers and their customers,” and said it would lead to less revenue for the city as it would lead to more firearm purchases conducted outside city limits.

Dave Workman, a member of the Second Amendment Foundation, told Fox News he isn’t surprised that the tax failed to achieve both of its proposed goals.

“All these gun control laws affect the wrong people,” Workman said. “The gang bangers don’t go in and buy ammunition at retail, at least not around here. It certainly hasn’t stopped them from getting their hands on firearms.”

About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over six years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Tyler. Got a hot tip? Send him an email at

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  • Alan June 26, 2017, 12:45 pm

    Seattle is the epitome of the Gumpism “Stupid is as stupid does”.

  • John in PA June 23, 2017, 4:21 pm

    Libs. Never. Learn. Take a swing at Americans, they learn to duck. Morons.

  • Don June 23, 2017, 3:31 pm

    Why would anyone in their right mind purchase any gun within the city of Seattle city limits when you can just go out of the city limits and purchase one without having to pay the extra $25.00 city imposed tax also pay the city tax they have imposed on bullets. I’m surprised they have collected as much as they claim they have.. I would spend $50.00 in gas to just get out of the Seattle city limits so I wouldn’t give the city that $25.00….

  • norm June 23, 2017, 1:58 pm

    Those people on the left coast are so fanatical, I won’t even go there to visit or vacation. They’re crazy over there. As bad as California. Besides that, everything is higher in price over there. Gasoline, liquid gold. Food, forget about it. Rude people in a mad rush.

    • Neil June 24, 2017, 8:02 am

      NO STATE is as bad as California! I have to live here, and I am native-born. I have seen the changes in the last few decades, and it will get worse, according to what I am reading about the plans for even more political leftism in Sacramento. Eric Holder for governor? Don’t laugh! My only therapy to help me endure the madness is to sit down at my reloading table and crank out a few more rounds.

    • No1hunter December 14, 2018, 9:49 am

      Actually it is not the West Coast State but the big blue cesspool cities that run them.

  • Mark Montano June 23, 2017, 1:45 pm

    I do not like how this country the USA home of the free is all a lie and and far from the truth.and the tax this and tax that it sure is funny how corrupt and greedy and so willing to charge more taxes to prove their point that the government will do what they please and the little freedom we have if any will keep being just that less and less.It sure makes me sick and i hate it.but that is only my opinion and yes many I know feel the same.

  • RGE June 23, 2017, 12:47 pm

    Humorously: Well no wonders! Of course shooting related casualty and death has increased. Why that per round tax coupled with gun tax will make any law-abiding liberal crazy enough to start shooting. Got to waste that ammo to feed the tax dontcha know!

    Reality: Stupid idea. If you want to reduce violence, that requires teaching kids and people how to be civil and not draw a gun, a knife, or any other weapon every time they need to settle a dispute.

    • davud June 24, 2017, 3:01 pm

      good point. public education campaigns are effective and cheaper than statutory approaches, but you never see anti-gun politicians proposing them. there’s no political gain for them in working with gun owners, only in working against them.

    • Knightvision December 29, 2017, 11:37 am

      When everyone carries, packs or conceals all society will be more thoughtful and polite.

  • Franks62 June 23, 2017, 11:37 am

    Given that this comes from the same city that houses people that believe that dams are dangerous because they take electricity out of the water and that Seattle is putting so much caffeine into WA waterways that it’s confusing fish, I’m not surprised.

  • Larry June 23, 2017, 11:22 am

    What do you expect from these nutjobs? Liberalism is an especially virulent form of mental disorder.

  • pete dee June 23, 2017, 11:15 am

    Substitute “negro” for “gun” and see how the left responds.
    This is nothing more than an old fashioned “poll tax,” once used to prevent freed negroes in the south from voting.
    Passed, by the way, by the party of slave owner, the democrat party.

  • Norm Fishler June 23, 2017, 10:58 am

    I lived in the Seattle area for nearly 25 years & I wouldn’t move back for love nor money. It is a social, moral, political & spiritual slime pit that no decent person should have to endure. Get out now while you still can.

  • Maha June 23, 2017, 10:09 am

    Seattle liberals believe in gun control like little children believe in the tooth fairy. In this instance they also get a tooth fairy windfall so they can grow government even more.

  • Rick June 23, 2017, 8:11 am

    This reminds me of new york state when all ar15 had to be registered only 10 % registered as it should be. I wouldn’t pay there taxes.

  • Michael Keim June 23, 2017, 7:22 am

    If gun control worked wouldn’t cities like Chicago, New York City, DC and the state of California be virtually crime free.

    • deanbob June 23, 2017, 9:41 am

      The control crowd never has dealt with facts well.

    • Greg June 23, 2017, 12:14 pm

      They always blame the surrounding areas for their gun problems. Obviously Arizona, Nevada, Oregon,Wisconsin, Minnisota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland etc must all be hell-holes for all their gun violence to be spilling over into DC, Chicago and California.

  • Chris Baker June 23, 2017, 6:14 am

    I agree with the judge, it’s a perfectly legal taxation under the city’s authority to tax. BUT… How far outside city limits do you need to go to make a perfectly legal purchase without paying the tax? This isn’t a gun control law at all, it’s a business control. They obviously don’t want any gun stores in their precious city and think no one is smart enough to get in their car and drive a few miles to get out of their jurisdiction to buy a weapon.

    Personally I wouldn’t have expected the crime rate to change either way. Doesn’t make sense. Just as many people will be armed and driving a few miles won’t make any real difference if a person feels the need to protect themselves. I can picture the city rulers thinking “how dare they usurp the police officer’s jobs”. They probably get angry if people return their shopping carts to the store too instead of letting the store hire someone to go and find them all and return them for the lazy people. Anyway, just shows that criminals are subject to appearance as much as the average sheep. They think “less guns there, I can rob people no problem” except that it’s not really a gun free zone at all. It just appears to them to be one so they are bolder.

    So come on Seattle, try punishing the criminals instead of law abiding citizens. You are partially responsible for the people hurt since the laws went into effect.

  • SuperG June 20, 2017, 10:54 am

    How many gun related businesses closed and moved into neighboring cities that were not so retarded? For those who stayed, I’ll bet their sales have taken a real hit as well, which decreases sales tax revenue to the City, which I bet they do not quantify.

    • Dr Motown June 23, 2017, 7:29 am

      They’re counting on more taxes from “coffee shops” that cater to pajama boys….then the anti-FA nuts will trash the coffee shops and blame the violence on the “far right!”

  • Will Drider June 19, 2017, 8:02 pm

    More flawed and failed gun control in the guise of “common sense”. What has not been answered is what follies the gun/ammo tax paid for? AND like all cash cow taxes will never stop on its own and excuses will flow on the need to increase the tax!

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