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What has happened under Seattle’s gun tax

(Mr. Throk, Flickr)
LISTEN: What has happened under Seattle's gun tax

Ever since Seattle passed a gun tax, firearm sales have dropped but shootings have dramatically risen. The gun violence situation is so bad in Seattle that activists are pressuring the city to admit its tax has been a “monumental failure.”

“It’s unfortunate, it’s the law abiding citizens that end up suffering and the tax payers who get taken to the cleaners,” Alan Gottlieb told the Dori Monson Show.

“Gun violence and drug violence is an enforcement problem, it’s not a matter of getting people’s guns and ammunition away from them,” he said. “It’s a matter of getting these bad guys off the streets. It’s something that Seattle is just not doing right now.”

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Instead, Seattle passed a gun tax in August 2015. It was aimed at funding gun-violence prevention, research and other programs to mitigate the public costs of gun-related crimes. The effort was spearheaded by Councilmember Tim Burgess. It places a $25 tax on guns sold in Seattle, as well as up to a 5-cent fee on each round.

Under Seattle’s gun tax

A year and nine months later, Seattle is experiencing a considerable rise in gun violence. There were 36 shootings and four fatalities in the first five months of 2017. Reports of shots fired rose to 155 by May 15 – 11 more than the same time in 2015, and 23 more than this time last year.

Even before the rise in violence, left-leaning critics had wondered if the gun tax was misguided. Gottlieb is now parading the statistics as proof that Seattle’s gun tax has not worked.

“According to the police department’s own statistics in Seattle, a startling 70 percent increase in the number of police calls for gun shots, and an alarming 30 percent increase in the number of shooting victims.

Perhaps the limited success is due to the fact that Seattle never took in the projected revenue it expected from the tax – as much as $500,000. The city won’t say how much money its gun tax has produced, only that it is less than $200,000. The reduction is partly because after the gun tax was passed, some gun retailers skipped town.

“They projected it was going to raise between $300,000 and $500,000 each year, and we had to go to court to find out how much they raised which they won’t say,” Gottlieb said. “Now they have come out and said it’s under $200,000, but they won’t say how much under $200,000.”

“Basically what they’ve done is drive gun dealers out of the City of Seattle and sales of guns and ammunition have gone elsewhere … It’s had no impact positively on violent crime in the city. In fact, it’s probably had an inverse affect.”

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