Seattle’s Controversial Gun Violence Tax Upheld: NRA Vows To Appeal

Seattle’s new gun violence tax was upheld by a King County Supreme Court Judge on Tuesday, to the dismay of the National Rifle Association, who had challenged the law.

The legislation, passed unanimously by the Seattle City Council last August, and supported by Mayor Ed Murray, added a new gun violence tax to handguns and ammunition sold within the city, reported Opposing Views. The measure, one of only a few like it in the country, adds $25 to the purchase price of a gun and two to five cents per each round of ammo sold, depending on the type.

The revenue, which was estimated to be between $300,000 and $500,000 by the Seattle City Budget Office, would be used to fund prevention programs and research through the Harbourview Injury Prevention and Research Center. According to University of Washington’s website, Harborview’s mission “…is dedicated to reducing the impact of injury and violence on peopleʼs lives through research, education, training, and public awareness.” Their goal is to reduce injury and death rates from both intentional and unintentional acts and accidents.

The tax will take effect in January, 2016.

A pro-gun coalition sued the city, led by the National Rifle Association. The coalition included two local gun owners, two Seattle gun stores, and the Second Amendment Foundation, reported Route Fifty. Their suit claimed that state law bans municipalities from creating firearm legislation, therefore the local government had overstepped its bounds, hence violating the law.

Second Amendment Foundation founder Alan Gottlieb released a written statement.

“It is unconscionable for Mayor Ed Murray and the City Council to codify what amounts to social bigotry against firearms retailers and their customers.”

Judge Palmer Robinson disagreed, finding that the law fell within the city’s taxing scope of authority. He dismissed the lawsuit.

Seattle City Council President Tim Burgess, who sponsored the law, released a statement regarding the ruling.

“We established the gun violence tax as a legitimate and appropriate way to raise revenue for gun safety research and prevention programs…Taxpayers in Seattle pay for millions of dollars in emergency medical care every year for people who have been shot. It’s time for the gun industry to chip in to help defray these costs.”

He went on to comment on the National Rifle Association, reported Fox News.

“The NRA and its allies always oppose these commonsense steps to shine light on the gun violence epidemic. They have blocked funding for basic gun safety research at the federal level for decades. But in Seattle it is different. Judge Robinson saw through the NRA’s distorted efforts to put gun industry profits ahead of public safety.”

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray weighed in on the decision.

“For too long, we have had insufficient research and data on gun violence in Seattle to help guide our response. We will now have critical funding to advance our work on gun violence research and prevention.”

An appeal was promised by The Second Amendment Foundation’s Alan Gottlieb.


“We are going to fight this vigorously in defense of a state preemption law that has served Washington citizens well for more than three decades.”

The Seattle Times reported that a lawyer for the coalition “called the ordinance a regulatory fee masquerading as a tax and accused city officials of trying to sneak around state law.”

More local governments are starting to take action within their jurisdictions, Route Fifty reported.

The City of San Francisco now requires that ammunition and gun sales be videotaped and shared with the Police Department. Los Angeles requires that when not in use, handguns are to be disabled with a trigger lock or locked up.

To avoid paying the new gun violence tax, pro-gun groups are advising customers to buy their guns and ammunition outside of the city limits.

[Photo By David Orcea/Shutterstock]