Seattle gun & ammo taxes drive gun seller out of town
Local weapons taxes complement latest White House efforts to stem gun violence
I live in gun-crazy Texas. Some folks would say the word "gun" is unnecessary. I'm Lone Star State born and bred, but many days I agree with that disparaging assessment, more so now that we have full open carry of weapons.
But for every Wild West wannabe piece of legislation, there are acts to try to counter gun violence across the country.
At the national level, President Barack Obama just announced executive office steps he plans to take to tighten the nation’s gun laws. Locally, states and cities have taken tougher gun stands with a modicum of success.
Last December, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a Second Amendment challenge to a Chicago suburb's ordinance that bans semiautomatic assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.
Pulling the trigger on gun taxes: And taxes, of course, continue to be part of the arsenal used to limit gun violence.
In August 2015, Seattle enacted a tax on firearms and their ammunition. The National Rifle Association and other pro-gun groups quickly sued, arguing that the city has no authority to enact such a law.
Seattle city officials and residents who agree with the gun and ammo tax got an early Christmas present on Dec. 22, 2015. That day, a King County Superior Court judge dismissed the NRA lawsuit, allowing the weaponry-related taxes to take effect on Jan. 1. The gun groups say they will appeal.
Meanwhile, one Seattle gun shop owner has taken matters into his own hands.
Moving to avoid gun taxes: Sergey Solyanik, owner of Precise Shooter gun store in Seattle, has stopped selling firearms and ammo. But sales will resume as soon as he's in new digs in nearby Lynnwood.
Solyanik says he's moving out of the city because of the tax costs. Seattle now is collecting a $25 tax on every firearm sold within its borders, as well as up to 5 cents for each round of ammunition for weapons.
"It would make us unprofitable," Solyanik told MyNorthwest.com. "I calculated it by retroactively applying the tax to our existing sales -- I'm a software developer, so I can do that -- and we would be operating at a loss for the entire store."
I respect Solyanik's decision. I and other opponents of open carry here in Texas are making similar economic choices as to which businesses we'll now patronize. If they allow gun-toting shoppers or diners into their establishments, we'll find other places to spend our dollars -- or gather for potluck dinners in our gun-free homes.
Raising money more than stopping violence: Realistically, though, I doubt that the gun and ammunition taxes will deter that many buyers. Sure, some folks might rethink their weapon choices. But as with similar sin taxes on a wide variety of items, people tend to spend what it costs to get what they want.
Seattle officials know that.
"We tax cigarettes, we tax alcohol, even wood-burning stoves, to mitigate the impact of those products on our public health. We should certainly do it for guns and ammunition as well," said Seattle Council Member Tim Burgess, who sponsored the weapons taxes bill.
The city estimates that it will take in between $300,000 to $500,000 from the gun tax. The money from the weapons-related taxes will go toward gun-violence prevention programs and research.
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