State Supreme Court Upholds Seattle's Tax On Firearms And Ammunition Sales

Activist Judges Need Not Apply

Activist Judges Need Not Apply

The Washington Supreme Court upheld Seattle's tax on gun and ammunition sales, rejecting a challenge by the National Rifle Association and others, the Seattle Times reports.

The city passed legislation in 2015 to charge gun shops $25 for every gun sale and a nickel for every round of ammunition, projecting that it would raise up to $500,000 a year for gun violence prevention programs.

The majority opinion, written by Justice Debra Stephens, determined the ordinance is not unconstitutional, saying it "imposes a tax because its primary objective is to raise revenue for the public benefit".

The NRA, Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), and National Shooting Sports Foundation were all plaintiffs in the case.

"This isn't just a loss for the rule of law, firearms dealers and gun owners living in Seattle", Gottlieb said. In 1983, state lawmakers adopted the state's preemption act, which squarely put all firearms regulation under authority of the Legislature. The two individual gun owners and organizations bringing the suit argued [opinion, PDF] that the tax was actually a state regulation on guns, which is prohibited by a Washington state law [official website]. "It is clear from this ruling that the Legislature will have to strengthen the preemption act to not only nullify what amounts to an unconstitutional poll tax on gun owners, but to also make sure this is not allowed to happen again". Cities, towns, and counties or other municipalities may enact only those laws and ordinances relating to firearms that are specifically authorized by state law... and are consistent with this chapter.

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