NRA aims to shoot down City of Seattle’s gun violence tax

Aug 24, 2015, 11:02 AM | Updated: 1:16 pm

If the President of the United States can't stop people from buying a gun, gun dealers sure can, KI...

If the President of the United States can't stop people from buying a gun, gun dealers sure can, KIRO Radio's Dave Ross points out. (AP)


The National Rifle Association says it is suing the city of Seattle over its adoption this month of a “gun violence tax” as well as mandatory reporting of lost or stolen firearms.

“Once again, anti-gun activists in Seattle have chosen to violate the Washington State Constitution and trample upon the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” said Chris Cox, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, in a news release. “They tried to enact similar regulations back in 2009 and lost. It’s a shame to see such a waste of public resources on issues the courts have already ruled to be a clear violation of state law.”

The NRA was joined in its lawsuit by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation. The lawsuit, filed Monday in King County Superior Court, accuses the city of violating Washington state law, which prohibits local governments from adopting laws related to firearms unless those local ordinances are specifically authorized.

Related: Seattle gun tax runs afoul of state law, will go to court

“We’ve been down this path before with Seattle when we sued them and won, knocking out their attempt to ban guns in city park facilities,” said Second Amendment Foundation founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb. “The city does not seem to understand that no matter how they wrap this package, it’s still a gun control law and it violates Washington’s long-standing preemption statute.”

The tax, scheduled to take effect in January 2016, amounts to $25 for each firearm sold in the city, plus 5 cents per round for nearly every type of ammunition. The revenue would be used for gun safety research and gun violence prevention programs.

“The stated purpose of this tax was to offset healthcare cost associated with gun violence, but the problem with that theory is that the law-abiding gun owner isn’t using their firearms illegally and isn’t causing these problems,” said Lars Dalseide with the NRA. “If you are trying to offset those costs you have to go after the criminal class.”

Dalseide notes that the State of Washington has a preemption law that prevents cities from enacting their own gun regulations. This played a factor in a 2009 lawsuit when Seattle was sued over an ordinance to ban firearms in parks. The lawsuit went all the way to the state Supreme Court where the local regulation was knocked down.

Dalseide said that Seattle’s latest ordinance will run afoul of state law yet again.

“The tax definitely is going to hurt gun shop owners and any retailer that sells ammunition,” he said. “But when you get down to it, what they are doing is trying to tax people &#8212 these law abiding citizens who own fire arms; who use them for hunting and for target shooting &#8212 and they are trying to impose a tax and penalty on them because of the illegal actions of those who aren’t buying their firearms legally to begin with.”

The NRA notes that the only other city in United States that has a similar tax to Seattle’s is Chicago.

City Attorney Pete Holmes has argued that the gun violence tax falls squarely under the Seattle’s taxing authority.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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