Dozens of gun owners and Second Amendent supporters packed the Tacoma City Council Chambers Tuesday evening, anticipating a vote on a proposed tax on firearms and ammunition sales in the city. Instead council members delayed the vote for two weeks while they work on potential amendments to the ordinance.
Mayor Victoria Woodards says council members wanted to add amendments to the tax, and because of that, council wanted to give themselves and the community more time.
“While it’s an incredibly urgent issue, we want to make sure that we get the language accurate as much as we can for the first time,” said Council member Ryan Mello one of the proposed gun tax sponsors.
I suspect that council members were a little taken aback by the response to their proposed tax, which would levy a $25 charge on every firearm sold in the city, as well as a tax of five cents per round of ammunition above .22 caliber, and two cents per round of ammunition .22 caliber and below. The Tacoma tax that’s been proposed is a carbon copy of the tax that’s been in place for a couple of years in Seattle, so I’m not exactly sure what amendments the Tacoma city council members are planning on introducing. Frankly, any extra taxes on the sale of firearms and ammunition is going to be a non-starter for the opponents who showed up to City Hall on Tuesday.
“We’re very hopefully they’ll not only delay this, but table the whole tax,” said Scott Dover.
Dover is the CEO of Aero Precision, a gun manufacturer based out of Tacoma that employs hundreds of people.
“Our employees are extremely concerned about the impact to them,” he said.
Dan Davies owns Mary’s Pistols in Tacoma, a small gun shop he and his wife have run for nearly 15 years.
Davies says while postponing the final vote gives him hope, it also makes things more difficult for him.
“I took away from my shop time to come here and get through this because it’s that important to me. This is my livelihood,” he said.
Council member Ryan Mello, who’s the chief sponsor of the proposed tax, has been doing his best to drum up support for the measure by bashing the NRA and claiming the tax isn’t meant to punish gun owners and firearm retailers like Dan Davies.
What I would hope to convey is that I have full appreciation that the vast majority of gun owners are responsible. This is not meant to be punitive to responsible gun owners. This is a way that is legal, deemed by the state supreme court, for cities to generate revenue for a super serious and clear problem. And there’s a direct nexus to it. For example, we tax and add fees to hunters and fishermen so that we can create more boating access land and conserve ground for hunters. Americans tend to like direct nexus of taxation, it seems to me. Car tabs for street repairs, so on and so forth. To me, this is a direct nexus of a product that very demonstrably has negative economic and social consequences for our community, and the consequences need to be mitigated with public resources.
Mello’s analogy to excise taxes doesn’t really make much sense. His proposed tax on guns and ammo won’t expand training or educational opportunities for gun owners, lead to new public ranges in the city, or anything of the sort. Instead, he wants to fund anti-violence programs out of the purses and wallets of legal, lawful gun owners. If this is about public safety, and not a punitive tax on responsible gun owners, then why not a tax that every citizen of Tacoma would pay, not just those legally purchasing firearms and ammunition?
A big thanks goes out to all of the Second Amendment supporters who showed up at City Hall, even if it meant closing their business or leaving work early, finding a sitter for the kids, or dealing with other hardships or even minor annoyances in order to be there. Your voice makes a difference, as we saw Tuesday evening. We’ll continue covering this story as council members debate those mysterious new amendments, and I hope in two weeks we see another city council meeting full of folks there to stand up to the guns and ammo tax.