By: Ashleigh Meyer
As gun sales continue to rise nationwide, and anti-gun legislation goes cold in Congress, Washington State Democrats are falling back on an old, beloved method of political control: taxation.
Following in the footsteps of Seattle, the city of Tacoma is looking to impose a $25 tax on every gun sale. The legislation would also impose a tax on ammunition, which would be charged per single round.
Councilman Ryan Mellow, who is proposing the legislation, claims his efforts are a way to reduce gun violence, stating, “I can’t ban assault rifles in the city of Tacoma. I can’t ban certain types of ammo in the city of Tacoma. I can’t require safe storage. There’s a lot I can’t do. The one thing I am not preempted from doing is reasonable taxation on firearms and ammunition.”
The weaponization of the tax code to bend the public to one’s will is nothing new. In fact, it is a common and reliable economic strategy used to regulate the sale, transfer, and availability of products. The Constitutionality of such a move, though, is questionable, and to impose taxes to satisfy a political agenda is certainly unsettling.
Opponents of the proposal fear the tax will impact gun retailers, forcing them out of the city. When taking a look at Seattle, this fear seems well-founded. Prior to passage of the tax law, the city boasted that it would generate $300,000 to $500,000 a year in tax revenue; however, as gun sellers fled the city, actual tax revenue amounted to “under $200,000,” according to state officials who refused to provide specifics. Many in the industry have reason to believe that it is much less than $200,000.
Another problem with the imposition of a gun-sale tax is that, like so many other attempts at legislating away Second Amendment rights, it would unfairly punish law-abiding gun owners. According to Robert McClelland, a senior fellow in the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, “the tax would fall most heavily on high-volume users such as target shooters rather than those who purchase a gun and a small number of cartridges.”
A $25 tax is very unlikely to dissuade mass shooters from purchasing a gun and ammunition with ill intent. Thus, legal, safe, conscious gun owners, hunters, and competition shooters would pay the price, literally.
According to Mellow, the taxes collected would go toward funding for various violence prevention programs in the city of Tacoma. Seattle touts the same theory, while the city’s violent crime rate continues to skyrocket.
Ashleigh Meyer is a professional writer and Conservative political analyst from rural Virginia.