Seattle’s Gun And Ammo Tax Affected Gun Sales And Violence

Seattle City Councilman Tim Burgess introduced a bill in 2015 to place a $25 tax on each gun purchase and up to 5 cents per round of ammunition. The tax took effect in January of 2016.

The tax was projected to bring in somewhere between $300,000 and $500,000 annually, which would be used to “study” gun violence.

However, the law isn’t quite reaching its original objective. Instead of lowering the number of gun crimes in the city, gun violence is actually on the rise since it went into effect. Gun sales have gone down in Seattle, with people simply leaving the city to purchase their firearms, but the result is the loss of jobs for gun shop employees in Seattle.

Mike Coombs, owner of Outdoor Emporium, the large gun dealer left in Seattle, said the actual tax revenue is almost certainly just over $100,000. His store has suffered a 20 percent decrease in sales and a 60 percent drop in gun sales, leading to financial difficulties and employees being laid off. “I’ve had to lay off employees because of this,” Coombs said. “It’s hurting us, it’s hurting our employees.”

Seattle police report that gun violence has sharply increased. Comparing the first five months of 2017 and the five months prior to the bill taking effect, shots fired are up 13 percent, people injured in shootings are up 37 percent, and gun related deaths have doubled.

The data says the law has failed to prevent what they promised it would prevent,” said Dave Workman, senior editor of and member of the Second Amendment Foundation. “All these gun control laws affect the wrong people. 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.”

Moreover, the tax isn’t bringing in as much revenue as promised. Seattle officials refuse to say how much the tax brought in the first year, only giving the number “under $200,000.”

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Thomas Elliott

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