In Washington State, Taxing the 2nd Amendment to Death

Law Shield would like to alert our members of an insidious attack on gun rights that seems to be spreading — the idea of “taxing” the civil right to keep and bear arms to death.

The latest example is a proposal from Seattle City Council President Tim Burgess, who has proposed taxing the sale of every firearm and round of ammunition in the city to fund “gun violence prevention programs.”

“Taxpayers in Seattle pay for millions of dollars in emergency medical care every year for people who have been shot,” said Council President Burgess. “It’s time for the gun industry to chip in to help defray these costs.”

The tax would be assessed at $25 on each firearm and 5 cents on each round of ammunition. This would be on top of combined state and local retail taxes that are near 9.6 percent.

Also, the City Council is also considering an ordinance that has the potential of turning victims of thefts into inadvertent criminals. The “Stolen Firearms” ordinance, also under consideration, would require law-abiding gun owners to report a firearm lost or stolen within 24 hours or be subject to a $500 fine.

“Illegal guns cause serious harm in our neighborhoods,” said Burgess. “This simple requirement will help law enforcement trace guns used in crimes and solve more cases. It is a straightforward and important step for gun safety.”

Senior Vice President and General Counsel Larry Keane said in an NSSF release, “The NSSF will vigorously oppose this misguided attempt to blame the lawful and regulated commerce in firearms and ammunition products for the violent acts of criminals. The proposed tax is nothing but a poll tax on the exercise of a fundamental civil liberty protected by the Second Amendment.”

Our Take: This tax is designed to place a huge burden on legitimate firearms retailers and law-abiding gun owners. Additionally, the proposed ordinance may be a violation of Washington’s firearms preemption statute. We would like to see the ordinance fail; or if passed, see the measure challenged in court and tossed out.

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