The City of Seattle thought adding a “gun violence tax” of $25 for every firearm sold within the city limits would raise between $300,000 and half a million dollars. They forgot to factor in that buyers can vote with their feet and patronize gun stores outside the city limits. Thanks to a lawsuit under the state of Washington’s Public Records Act by Dave Workman and the Second Amendment Foundation, we now know the real amount collected. It was just a bit over $100,000 and most of that comes from one gun store that publicized its own figures.
It is not surprising that Seattle wanted to keep this embarrassing amount quiet. No politician wants the public to know that his or her pet program is an abject failure
According to the press release from the Second Amendment Foundation, they will be awarded a $377 fine plus their attorneys’ fees. The fine is a dollar a day for each day the City of Seattle drug its feet in bad faith on releasing the requested information. The unfortunate part is that city taxpayers and not the politicians are the ones footing the bill.
Congratulations to Dave, Alan, and everyone else at SAF for their win on this First Amendment case with Second Amendment overtones.
UPDATE: More on the win by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Mike Coombs, owner of the Outdoor Emporium, was the store owner whose collections constituted about 80% of the collections. Given his comments in the interview, I think the real aim of Seattle City Council is to make the city the next San Francisco. That is, no gun stores within the city limits.
Coombs sought to force the city’s hand by releasing his own pay-ins to the tax. He wrote in a memo to the court that he paid $86,410.63 last year.
The city has only said it collected less than $200,000 and that one business has paid more than 80 percent of the total tax revenue — by that math, Coombs believe he is that big fish, and estimates the city only brought in about $108,000 total.
Coombs also laid out additional devastating statistics for his business: Outdoor Emporium’s firearm sales dropped about 20 percent last year from 2015 and its ammunition sales were cut in half. Overall sales were cut 15 percent because customers who bought guns and bullets also bought other supplies at the store.
His store in Fife has not suffered the same losses.
“Many of our customers have told me that they stopped shopping at our store because of the firearm and ammunition tax, and that has meant that they have started shopping at stores outside Seattle for all their sporting goods needs,” Coombs wrote to the court. “I believe most of Outdoor Emporium’s loss of sales is directly linked to the firearm and ammunition tax.”
What’s more: Coombs laid off some staff and collected $183,747 less in sales tax last year. Deducting the portion of the sales tax that goes to the city from the amount it collected with the gun safety tax, Coombs estimated that Seattle gained only $25,000 from Outdoor Emporium as a result of the ordinance.
Given the city pulled $275,000 from its general fund to help fund the “gun violence” (sic) prevention pilot program at Harborview General Hospital, the tax was never about raising money. It was about control.