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Tacoma City Council passes gun tax modeled after Seattle

Guns. (KIRO 7 image)

Tacoma City Councilmembers voted Tuesday evening and passed a new measure based on a controversial Seattle gun tax.

New version of gun tax includes amendments, edits

The tax will go into effect on July 1, 2020.

The council was originally expected to vote on this last month, but concerns were raised, so amendments were made and the vote was pushed back two weeks.

Tacoma’s proposal is modeled after Seattle’s, and tacks on $25 to all gun sales, along with an ammo tax of 2 cents a round for 22 caliber or less, and 5 cents a round for all other ammo sold at retail.

The amended version of the legislation includes a review of the tax’s effect on B&O revenue, as well as local businesses, leaving the door open for a repeal in the future.

Other amendments include clarification that exempts “parts or components” of firearms from the tax, an in effort to provide relief for manufacturers. Another amendment recommends using revenue generated from the tax to develop and implement a gun buyback program.

The estimated $30,000 a year the tax would raise would “provide public benefits for residents of Tacoma related to gun violence by providing a portion of the funds needed for programs that promote public safety, prevent gun violence, and address, in part, the cost of gun violence in the City, be used for violence prevention programs,” according the ordinance.

Seattle collected much less than predicted from gun tax

That’s something backers say the city needs, with a 37 percent increase in gun related crimes between 2014-2018. Nineteen of the city’s 22 murders this year involved guns.

On the other side of the debate, gun retailers have said it will drive them out of business or push them out of the city.

The council was expected to vote on the measure at its Oct. 29 meeting, drawing an overflow crowd of supporters and critics hoping to have their say. But after multiple councilmembers voiced concerns in a morning study session, as well as their intent to add amendments, the vote was pushed back another two weeks to Tuesday night.

KIRO 7’s Casey McNerthney and Shelby Miller, and KIRO Radio’s Hanna Scott contributed to this report

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