Seattle gun tax failure? Firearm sales plummet, violence spikes after law passes

“When the City of Seattle passed a tax on all sales of guns and ammunition, the measure was hailed as a way to defray the rising costs of gun violence.

But since the tax took effect, those costs have only risen as gun violence in the city has surged. And the tax has apparently brought in much less than city leaders projected it would.

“How much data do you need?” asked Dave Workman, senior editor of TheGunMag.com and member of the Second Amendment Foundation. “The data says the law has failed to prevent what they promised it would prevent.”

Seattle City Councilman Tim Burgess introduced the tax in 2015. It puts a $25 tax on every firearm sold in the city and up to 5 cents per round of ammunition. The measure easily passed and took effect January 1, 2016. Comparing the first five months of 2017 with the same period before the gun tax went into effect, reports of shots fired are up 13 percent, the number of people injured in shootings climbed 37 percent and gun deaths doubled, according to crime statistics from the Seattle Police Department.

Councilman Burgess never returned calls and emails for comment. Dana Robinson Slote, director of communication for Seattle City Council, said she was “politely declining your invitation for an interview.”

In selling his gun tax to the public, Burgess predicted it would generate between $300,000 and $500,000 annually. The money would be used to study the root causes of gun violence in hopes of reducing the costs to taxpayers.

Seattle officials refuse to say how much the tax brought in the first year, only giving the number “under $200,000.” Gun rights groups have sued to get the exact amount.

But Mike Coombs, owner of Outdoor Emporium, the last large gun dealer left in Seattle, said the actual tax revenue is almost certainly just over $100,000, a figure based on information he says the city shared with his lawyers.

Coombs said storewide, sales are down 20 percent while gun sales have plummeted 60 percent.

“I’ve had to lay off employees because of this,” Coombs said. “It’s hurting us, it’s hurting our employees.”

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By Dan Springer

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