Last summer, the Seattle city council voted to enact a “gun violence tax,” forcing the city’s law-abiding gun buyers to pay $25 extra to purchase a firearm. The council also placed a tax on ammunition, charging between two and five cents a round, depending on the type. Immediately, the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights groups filed suit, claiming that the city was exceeding their legal authority.
This Tuesday, King County Superior Court Judge Palmer Robinson dismissed the NRA’s challenge, upholding the tax.
“The NRA and its allies always oppose these commonsense steps to shine light on the gun violence epidemic,” said city council president Tim Burgess. “Judge Robinson saw through the NRA’s distorted efforts to put gun industry profits ahead of public safety.”
The city’s tax was developed to mimic a similar one in Cook County, Illinois. The Chicago-area tax was supposed to provide additional revenue for gun safety research. In Seattle, the proposal is to put the money toward gun violence itself, a problem that reportedly costs the taxpayers $12 million in medical bills. The argument falls a little flat, though, seeing as how even the most extravagant estimates only predict a yearly windfall of $500,000. This would be like destroying the economy with carbon regulations that won’t actually do anything to solve global warming.
In other words, business as usual for Democrats.
Some public health officials have likened these taxes to the war on tobacco. After states pushed cigarette taxes through the roof, it had an immediate impact on smoking rates. But you don’t have to be a genius to see the difference. For one, taxpayers were within their rights to demand that smokers pay for their own astronomical medical bills. In this case, taxpayers want law-abiding, safety-conscious gun owners to pay for criminal violence. If simply owning a gun led inevitably to crime and death, these taxes might be defensible. But that’s not the case.
Second, there is nothing in the Bill of Rights protecting a citizen’s smoking rights. Federal prohibition would be a mistake, but it wouldn’t be automatically unconstitutional. When it comes to guns, prohibition would be both a mistake and automatically unconstitutional. So to get around that pesky fact, Democrats are going to tax the bejesus out of them.
If the city council wanted to impose a $1,000 tax on each gun, would it still be legal? At what point does it become too obvious that it’s just a way to ban guns without actually having to ban them?
Or maybe this is just an attempt to psychologically brainwash Americans into thinking there’s something wrong with buying a gun. If you’re paying a tax meant to help victims of gun violence, surely you’re contributing to the problem in some way. It’s an effect that, again, worked marvelously with tobacco. And with guns, it could indeed work again. Roll out enough ads portraying gun owners as monsters, and you’ll have your results in five or ten years.
At that point, you really can start chipping away at the Second Amendment. That’s why it’s so important to get out in front of these things early.