In recent years, Seattle has developed a reputation for passing asinine laws. Recently the city tried to increase taxes on diet soda, because the drink is more popular among white people. In the past they’ve allowed 6th graders to receive IUDs without parental consent, and have enlisted garbage men to snoop through residential trash in search of compost that is illegal to throw out. Seattle was also the first American city to pass a $15 minimum wage law, which promptly hurt low wage workers.
So it’s no surprise that sometimes the city passes laws that backfire in very predictable ways. In 2015 Seattle tried to place a tax on gun and ammunition purchases, in an effort to curb some of the costs the city pays for gun violence. However, these taxes didn’t have the desired effect.
Seattle City Councilman Tim Burgess introduced the tax in 2015. It puts a $25 tax on every firearm sold in the city and up to 5 cents per round of ammunition. The measure easily passed and took effect January 1, 2016. Comparing the first five months of 2017 with the same period before the gun tax went into effect, reports of shots fired are up 13 percent, the number of people injured in shootings climbed 37 percent and gun deaths doubled, according to crime statistics from the Seattle Police Department.
Not only that, but the tax didn’t bring in nearly as much money as city officials initially predicted. The only thing these taxes have accomplished, is the decimation of gun retailers in the city.
In selling his gun tax to the public, Burgess predicted it would generate between $300,000 and $500,000 annually. The money would be used to study the root causes of gun violence in hopes of reducing the costs to taxpayers.
Seattle officials refuse to say how much the tax brought in the first year, only giving the number “under $200,000.” Gun rights groups have sued to get the exact amount.
But Mike Coombs, owner of Outdoor Emporium, the last large gun dealer left in Seattle, said the actual tax revenue is almost certainly just over $100,000, a figure based on information he says the city shared with his lawyers.
Coombs said storewide, sales are down 20 percent while gun sales have plummeted 60 percent.
“I’ve had to lay off employees because of this,” Coombs said. “It’s hurting us, it’s hurting our employees.”
So in other words, the city tried to raise money to pay down the costs of gun violence, but their efforts brought in very little money, and might have raised the costs of gun violence.
To be fair, there isn’t any proof that this crime wave is directly related the gun and ammunition taxes. But the best case scenario is that these taxes had zero effect on crime rates, hurt jobs, and burdened law abiding gun enthusiasts for no good reason. And this was totally predictable. There was nothing preventing gun owners in Seattle from simply driving outside of the city limits to buy cheaper guns and ammunition. So there are only two reasonable explanations for why these taxes were implemented. Either the political leaders of Seattle are painfully dumb, or they were deliberately trying to wreck the gun industry in their city.