A Washington State-based company that’s one of the largest manufacturers of firearm parts and accessories is expanding its operations outside the city of Tacoma after local officials approved a new tax on the sale of firearms and ammunition inside the city limits.
Aero Precision had warned those same politicians back in 2019 when the tax was first approved that if it came to pass, the company would be forced to consider its options. With the tax now taking effect, the firearms manufacturer is following through on its threat.
The company and its 800 employees announced plans to expand and grow their manufacturing base in nearby Lakewood, Wash. Instead of investing in more jobs, more infrastructure, and more taxes paid to the City of Tacoma, Aero is literally sending their business elsewhere.
Despite a recent model of abject failure from nearby Seattle, Tacoma city officials went forward with a proposal in 2019 to implement a tax increase on all firearms and ammunition. The tax increase, including $25 on all firearms and between 2-5 cents on all ammunition, was sold by officials to the public as a windfall, predicted to generate an extra $30,000 a year to “provide public benefit to residents of Tacoma related to gun violence…” The community decried the proposal and firearm-related businesses specifically warned it would lead to job losses in the community.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Larry Keane is correct in pointing out the failure of the gun and ammo tax in Seattle. The revenue generated by the increased taxes has fallen far short of what Seattle officials predicted when the tax took effect back in 2015.
The architects of the plan promised it would bring in $500,000 annually that would be used toward gun violence research at the city’s Harborview Medical Center.
It’s yet to even come close to that goal. Last year, the city collected $85,352, which is only $7,800 more than the $77,518 collected in 2018, according to a report from the Second Amendment Foundation. NSSF, along with SAF and NRA challenged the tax on state preemption grounds, but courts in Washington state upheld it. The three organizations knew the tax was actually a form of gun control, which can only be administered by the state and not municipalities. It also punishes law-abiding citizens for the criminal activities of others. NSSF predicted the tax would fail. Four years running, that’s held true.
Several gun stores have moved out of Seattle, leaving just a couple of gun stores inside the city limits. The same phenomenon is likely to take place in Tacoma now that the gun and ammo tax is set to take effect, though some shops could just shut down completely. Mary Davies, who runs Mary’s Pistols in the city, has already said that she is “certain” that she’ll close as a result of the tax increase, and she may not be alone.
Aero Precision, on the other hand, is investing in a 268,000 square foot facility in Lakewood, Washington that CEO Scott Dover says is going to be the “long term home” for the company.
Between store closures and Aero Precision’s move to transition out of the city, the elected officials in Tacoma who were hoping to profit off of the increased taxes on gun owners are likely to find that they’ve dug themselves a hole instead. Their anti-gun and anti-business tax hike isn’t going to bring in much money to the city, and the pittance it produces could easily be offset by the loss in overall tax revenue from the businesses that have shut down or moved away.