Seattle Gun Shop Owner May Sue City over New Taxes

UPDATE 8/11/15: The Seattle City Council unanimously approved the new taxes on firearms and ammunition sold within city limits on Monday night. An ordinance making it mandatory for firearm thefts to be reported was also passed.

Last month we reported on the impending new tax in Seattle, Washington that would charge gun shops $25 on every firearm sold, as well as $0.02 on every round of .22 ammo and $0.05 on every round of any other caliber.

The Seattle City Council is expected to vote on the legislation today. If it passes, at least one gun shop owner isn't planning to take it sitting down, and says he may sue the city.

Sergey Solyanik, the owner of Precise Shooter on Aurora Avenue, has published is own numbers and figures that contradict the city's assertions that it can take in between $300,000 and $500,000 in gun tax revenue to be put toward gun-violence prevention programs, according to this story from mynorthwest.com.

"Basically what the city has done is that they have invented numbers," he said. "Pretty much, all the numbers they have associated with this proposal are outright fake."

According to Solyanik's math, the new tax would likely generate $80,000 in revenue for the city, but that's only if the market doesn't change after the law is passed.

"My store will definitely have to move. it would not be economically viable to stay in the city," Solyanik said, noting there are only two primary gun shops in Seattle, but many more just outside the city.

He added that the cheapest option for him and other shop owners would be to sue the city.

"A plaintiff could sue the city, probably for a declaratory judgement declaring the city ordinance invalid as being preempted by state law," said Alison Dempsey-Hall with Washington's Office of the Attorney General. "The Declaratory Judgements Act requires that any party alleging that a local ordinance is invalid give notice of that claim to the attorney general."

No matter what, Solyanik says he can't keep his story in the city once the tax is in place, revealing that his story grossed $22,000 during the first half of 2015, that's before expenses. He estimates that if he paid the city's new tax himself instead of passing the increase on to customers, the business he did in that same period would cost him $23,500.

Critics of Seattle's proposed legislation have already pointed out that it will likely violate Washington's preemption laws, which say county or municipal laws cannot impose greater restrictions than state laws.