Gun Groups Sue Seattle Over New Firearms Tax

photo from rapidnewsnetwork.com.

We reported on August 11 that the Seattle City Council unanimously approved a new tax on firearms and ammunition that would likely drive most gun shops out of the city.

Yesterday, the National Rifle Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, and the Second Amendment Foundation filed a lawsuit against the city for violating a Washington state law that prevents local municipalities from creating their own firearm regulations, according to this story from nraila.org.

The tax, which goes into effect in January, will charge gun shops $25 on every firearm sold, $0.02 on every round of .22 ammo, and $0.05 on every round of every other caliber.

"Once again, anti-gun activists in Seattle have chosen to violate the Washington State Constitution and trample upon the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens," said Chris Cox, executive director of NRA's Institute for Legislative Action. "They tried to enact similar regulations back in 2009 and lost. It's a shame to see such a waste of public resources on issues the courts have already ruled to be a clear violation of state law."

In 2009, the city council passed regulations that prohibited the carrying of firearms in city parks. The issue eventually reached the state Supreme Court and the prohibition was removed in 2012.

Two Seattle gun shops, Outdoor Emporium and Precise Shooter, and two individual gun purchasers also joined in the suit, according to cnn.com. The two shops say they would be caused "irreparable harm" by the tax.

There were indications that a lawsuit was imminent and the NSSF warned Mayor Ed Murray that if he signed the "gun violence tax" into law, they would likely sue on the grounds that the tax violates the state's preemption laws.

According to a press release, the NSSF sent Murray a letter urging him to "veto the unlawful tax and letting him know that if the law was enacted 'NSSF will have no alternative but to file a lawsuit' against the City."

"The Seattle ordinance is nothing but a 'poll tax' on the Second Amendment and an effort to drive Seattle's firearms retailers out of business," said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel.

In this story from CNN, Keane said, "(It's) like putting a tax on a pharmacy to address a drug epidemic. The only difference is that purchasing a gun is a constitutional right. (The tax) is essentially trying to drive retailers out of business, to drive them out of town."

City Council President Tim Burgess told CNNMoney that the city is not violating state law by taxing sales within Seattle.

"We're not attempting to control whether someone can purchase a weapon," he said. "We are taxing a commodity."