City council members in Tacoma, Washington have been mulling over a huge tax increase on firearms and ammunition for months now. A vote originally scheduled for last month was delayed for several weeks, but it looks like the vote will happen at Tuesday’s city council meeting, and though the bill may been amended, gun store owners say it still represents an existential threat to their ability to remain in business in the city.

Several gun retailers in the city said they would close their doors the day the tax went into effect, while others complained this was an attack on the 2nd Amendment by a gun-hating city council hoping to deter law-abiding citizens from buying firearms.

The tax is only expected to raise about $30,000 for the city, but would cripple the ability of local gun shops to compete with stores in nearby towns that don’t have the onerous tax on firearms and ammunition. Dan Davies owns Mary’s Pistols in Tacoma, and says his business is toast if the tax hike is approved.
“I think I realistically would be forced to close,” he told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson.
Moving a gun shop takes a lot of time and effort because of the many licenses required, and closing his shop for the duration of the paperwork period would not be feasible.

He is not the only business owner who fears this. Firearm manufacturer Aero Precision is a large employer in Tacoma, providing jobs to hundreds of people. He told the city council he worries for his employees if this tax passes.

While the tax could greatly impact businesses, Davies said that it will have much less of an effect on those who make guns a danger in the first place — the violent criminals. Unfortunately, he doesn’t see the city getting to the root of the problem.

The $25 tax on every firearm sold, and five-cents per round of ammunition (two-cents for every round of .22LR and lesser calibers) isn’t designed to have an effect on violent criminals. It’s designed to make it more expensive to be a gun owner, but its biggest impact would be on the closure of gun stores. After Seattle passed its own guns and ammo tax a few years ago, shops either moved or closed, and now just one store is responsible for 80% of the revenue raised by the tax. Seattle didn’t see the financial windfall it was hoping for either. Supporters of the tax said it would raise nearly a million dollars a year. Instead, it’s raising around $100,000 to “prevent gun violence.” Unfortunately, even that money isn’t making a difference in Seattle, where violent crime is trending upwards, not down.

The good news is it sounds like there’s some opposition to this proposal on the Tacoma City Council. A rejection of the gun and ammo tax would be a big victory for gun owners and a huge defeat for gun control advocates in Washington State, who are hoping to build on a successful vote by pushing identical taxes in suburbs around the Sea-Tac area. We’ll be watching this evening’s vote, and you can expect a full update and analysis afterwards.