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Would Tax on Guns And Ammo Force Buyers And Sellers Out of Seattle?

Elaine Thompson
AP Photo

Gun shop owners in Seattle say a proposed tax on salescould force them to move or go out of business. The Seattle City Council is considering placing a $25 tax on every gun sold and a 5-cent tax on every round of ammunition purchased in the city.

The money from the guns and ammo tax would be used to pay for gun violence research and prevention, which would be conducted at Harborview Medical Center. 

City officials estimate the new tax would collect between $300,000 and $500,000 a year. But, at a city council hearing, bun shop customer Ken Stok, said the measure is unlikely to bring in much money at all.

“The taxation on firearm sales and ammunition is going to do nothing but drive me and everyone else that I know outside of the city to buy stuff and you’re going to lose revenue,” Stok said.

The President of Outdoor Emporium in Seattle, Mike Coombs, emphasized Stok's point, saying if gun customers go away and he has to close, the taxes the store generates now will disappear as well.

“One million dollars in tax revenue is what we bring in to Seattle,” Coombs said.

But public health advocates and other supporters say taxing guns and ammo is still the right thing to do, even if it doesn’t result in a windfall for the city.

Angela Christianson, who describes herself as a mom from south Seattle, says the main point is to lessen gun violence in the city.

"It’s my right to live without fear. I don’t want my children to live in fear,” she said.

Another proposal being considered by the Seattle City Council, one that would require gun owners to report to police if their gun is lost or stolen has broader support.

Outdoor Emporium President Mike Coombs says that's something he can get behind. 

“We believe in safety 100 percent,” Coombs told the council.    

Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.