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After Seattle’s Gun Tax: Lost Jobs, Little Revenue, More Violent Crime

After Seattle’s Gun Tax: Lost Jobs, Little Revenue, More Violent Crime

“The data says the law has failed to prevent what they promised it would prevent”

Although Seattle’s gun tax was supposed to bring in $300,000 to $500,000, it’s brought in less than $200,000.  The money was supposed to be used to “study” gun violence and to somehow lower the cost to taxpayers for gun violence.

It didn’t turn out that way, and Seattle ended up forking out taxpayer money from the general fund for the “study.”  Meanwhile, small business owners have shuttered their Seattle gun shops, causing employees to lose their jobs.  Furthermore, Seattle police report that gun violence has sharply increased.

The tax took effect in January of 2016, and includes a $25 tax on each gun purchase and up to 5 cents per round of ammunition.

The Seattle Times reported last April:

In Seattle — where the city collects a $25 tax on every gun sale and between 2 cents and a nickel on every round of ammunition, depending on the caliber . . . .

The $300,000 to $500,000 the tax is expected to raise this year is earmarked to fund a study of gunshot victims, including medical and behavioral interventions, by the University of Washington and Harborview Medical Center’s trauma center, which treats most of the city’s gunshot victims.

Predictably, gun sales have gone down in Seattle, with people simply leaving the city to purchase their firearms, but the result is the loss of jobs for gun shop employees in Seattle.

Fox News reports:

When the City of Seattle passed a tax on all sales of guns and ammunition, the measure was hailed as a way to defray the rising costs of gun violence.

But since the tax took effect, those costs have only risen as gun violence in the city has surged. And the tax has apparently brought in much less than city leaders projected it would.

“How much data do you need?” asked Dave Workman, senior editor of and member of the Second Amendment Foundation. “The data says the law has failed to prevent what they promised it would prevent.”

. . . . 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.”

Employees at the Big 5 sporting goods stores in Seattle also report anemic gun sales. But there’s evidence Seattleites are just going outside the city to buy their guns. Coombs also owns a gun shop in the nearby city of Fife. Sales there are described as robust.

Another gun dealer simply left Seattle and moved his shop, Precise Shooter, to nearby Lynnwood. Sergey Solyanik said business has never been better. He said the gun tax has probably worked out to be a net negative for Seattle when factoring lost sales tax revenue.

As if that’s not bad enough, the Seattle police department reported a “significant rise” in gun violence this year.

K5 reported last month:

New numbers released by the Seattle Police Department on Wednesday show a significant rise in gun violence this year.

According to the report, there have been 155 reports of shots fired so far in 2017. That’s more than any other year by this time. In 2016, there were 132 reports in the entire year.

The majority of those reports, 72 of the 155, occurred in the South Precinct.

There have been 35 confirmed shootings so far, which is eight more than in all of 2016. Of the 35 people shot in Seattle in 2017, six appear to be true innocent/unintended victims.

The purported goals of the gun tax were spectacularly not met, but don’t expect Seattle to change their policy.


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Walker Evans | June 17, 2017 at 3:51 pm

“The purported goals of the gun tax were spectacularly not met, but don’t expect Seattle to change their policy.”

Actually, based on the way Seattle has reacted so far, it would be reasonable to expect an increase in the amount of the tax! They need to do that in order to bring in the amount originally anticipated. (Washington State lawmakers have apparently never heard of a long-standing law: The Law of Diminishing Returns!)

practicalconservative | June 17, 2017 at 3:52 pm

An armed citizen is the best protection against an armed criminal.

Religious/moral philosophy to keep honest people honest. Competing interests to mitigate the opportunity and consequences of others running amuck.

VaGentleman | June 17, 2017 at 4:29 pm

The actual purpose of the tax is to Jim Crow gun owners. It is no different than the poll taxes and literacy tests that were used by the dems to prevent blacks from exercising their right to vote. Modern dems haven’t repudiated Jim Crow, just changed the victim.

    mariner in reply to VaGentleman. | June 17, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    Imagine a tax on abortions.

    swjacobs in reply to VaGentleman. | June 18, 2017 at 10:25 am

    the actual purpose was to shutter gun shops, perfectly eliminating gun purchases in seattle. a FOIA would reveal this was their intentions all along as they were willing to pay up out of the city funds to shutter those businesses.

    if I were a gun shop owner I would pursue this.

Lost Jobs, Little Revenue, More Violent Crime

I think Democrats consider those to be positive outcomes, because their policies consistently produce them.

Focus not on the gun, but on the finger that pulls the trigger.

Henry Hawkins | June 17, 2017 at 6:04 pm

See, this is what happens when gun laws aren’t strict enough and gun taxes aren’t high enough (which is what the Seattle city council is telling themselves right now).

    4th armored div in reply to Henry Hawkins. | June 17, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    yeah to guarantee no legal hand guns, they need to increase the tax to 100k/annum – guarantees that honest folk will leave the city and surrounding communities.

    BTW does Boeing still have any plans to stay there ?
    can LibRules work for a militarey/industrial complex ?

It doesn’t matter that their actions are an abject failure in practice, all the liberals in Seattle get to virtue signal to all the other liberals around the country, on gun control.

It is a wonderful ploy…linking legal gun sales and ownership with criminal activity. Banning and restricting ownership and availability of legal purchase can allow Progs to virtually eliminate legal avenues while never closing the gap that eventually leads to a black market of REALLY potent weapons. They achieve what THEY want, not what must be done. They fell better about themselves and move on to the next flawed regulation. Perfection using the law is only one more lregulation away….honest. “The bluest laws you’ve ever seen are in Seattle, and the Progs the greenest green in Seattle….”

    snopercod in reply to alaskabob. | June 18, 2017 at 7:35 am

    “There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.”

    –Ayn Rand

inspectorudy | June 17, 2017 at 6:44 pm

Remember the liberal mantra, “It isn’t the outcome that is important, it is the intent”. They use this on every issue that they champion. Almost every law passed by Congress is a failure in the long run because it creates an uneven playing field and then begins losing money. But they console themselves by using their mantra.

I see the problem; instead of taxing guns and ammo, Seattle needs to tax newspapers and broadcasts. Just call it hysteria reduction taxes.

“The data says the law has failed to prevent what they promised it would prevent”

Just like every other time it has been tried by the left. Of course, they are incapable of admitting error…

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

In other words, to lefties, a stunning success!