City council members in Tacoma, Washington could soon approve a massive increase in taxes on firearms and ammunition sales in the city, and local reporter and columnist Matt Driscoll loves the idea. In a column for the Tacoma News-Tribune, Driscoll says he’s ready for the city to “do something” to try to make streets safer.
Yes, I think the tax on firearms and ammo can potentially do some good, providing a small revenue source to pay for gun-violence prevention programming — which can’t hurt.
But you know what? There’s another part of me that’s just so damn sick and tired of seeing the same tragedies — and the same lame reactions, defenses and non-responses — that I’m simply ready for the city to do anything it can.
If that essentially amounts to a middle finger directed at the organized gun lobby — whose sole mission at this point seems to be thwarting any and all common-sense gun regulation — so be it.
The proposed tax increase is much more about the middle finger directed at gun owners (not the organized “gun lobby”) than it is about public safety. Driscoll acknowledges that Seattle’s tax on guns and ammo sales, which was passed in 2015, has raised just a small portion of the hundreds of thousands of dollars the tax was supposed to generate, but says that’s okay because a little bit is better than none at all. What Driscoll fails to note is why the tax increase hasn’t led to a bounty of riches taken from gun owners. It’s because most gun stores have left the city and re-opened in the suburbs where the tax increase doesn’t apply. And since Seattle has put its tax in place, violent crime has gone up, not down. If you want to “do something”, as Driscoll does, shouldn’t you want to do something that works?
Driscoll and the Tacoma city councilman Ryan Mello, who’s introducing the tax increase seem much more interested in poking gun owners than addressing violent crime.
Asked about the reaction he’s received, Mello says, “It demonstrates to me that the gun lobby has power.”
He believes the lobby is “very concerned that if Tacoma is successful in a firearms and ammunition tax, then it shows the way for other cities, and other cities will do it.”
“I think they’re scared to death, no pun intended, of this concept taking root,” he added.
I think any American, not just gun owners, should be concerned when elected officials decide they’re going to try to make it prohibitively expensive to exercise a constitutionally-protected right. Any increased tax on guns and ammunition will fall disproportionately on those at the lower end of the economic spectrum. Ironically, when Mello was running for city council in 2015, he was all about fighting for the blue-collar wage earners in the city.
Mello notes that job creation isn’t the only measure of a healthy economy: “Income inequality and stagnant wages limit a full recovery. We can’t leave workers behind while others recover.
That was then and this is now. Just a few years ago it was all about reducing income inequality. Now his goal is to exacerbate it, and to give the middle finger to gun owners in the process.
The proposed guns and ammo tax will be introduced in the Tacoma City Council next week, and we’ll have more coverage once it’s been formally released.