Debate Magazine

King County Judge Upholds Seattle Gun Violence Tax

By Eowyn @DrEowyn

Last August I told you about how the Seattle City Council passed a “gun violence” tax –  $25 per gun and 2 or 5 cents per round of ammunition. On Tuesday a judge upheld the tax, rejecting a challenge from the National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups.

King County Superior Court Judge Palmer Robinson

King County Superior Court Judge Palmer Robinson

The judge who upheld this tax? King County Superior Court Judge Palmer Robinson. Fox News reports that she dismissed arguments that Seattle’s tax exceeded the city’s authority under state law.

The Seattle City Council expects the tax to raise up to $500,000 a year to help offset the costs of gun violence. The measure is set to take effect next month.

Councilmember Burgess

Councilmember Burgess

Of course, City Council President Tim Burgess (who sponsored the law) believes that the NRA is the root of all criminal gun violence. He said, “The NRA and its allies always oppose these commonsense steps to shine light on the gun violence epidemic. Judge Robinson saw through the NRA’s distorted efforts to put gun industry profits ahead of public safety.

The NRA did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment, but another plaintiff, the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation, promised an immediate appeal. The groups have argued state law puts responsibility for regulating firearms solely in the hands of the Legislature, not local governments.

“It is unconscionable for Mayor Ed Murray and the City Council to codify what amounts to social bigotry against firearms retailers and their customers,” Second Amendment Foundation founder Alan Gottlieb said in a written statement.

The good judge found the measure falls within the city’s taxing authority and is not an impermissible regulation. The Seattle tax is modeled after a similar one in Cook County, Illinois, which includes Chicago; the NRA has said Chicago is the only other city with such a measure. The revenue would be used for gun safety research and gun violence prevention programs. (And how’s that working for Chiraq?)

Mayor Ed Murray's idea of fighting crime - rainbow sidewalks!

Mayor Ed Murray’s idea of fighting crime – rainbow sidewalks!

“Guns now kill more people in the United States than automobiles,” Seattle’s mayor Ed Murray said. “Our community will not stand by as so many in our city, particularly young people of color, continue to pay the highest price for inaction on gun violence at the national and state level.”


I’m so glad I moved out of Washington State.


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