King County judge upholds Seattle's new tax on gun, ammo sales; opponents vow appeal

SEATTLE -- King County Superior Court Judge Palmer Robinson on Tuesday upheld Seattle's new law to impose a special tax on the sale of guns and ammo within the city limits.

One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit opposing the tax, the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation, promised an immediate appeal, the Associated Press reported.

In August, the Seattle City Council approve a  "gun violence tax" that would require firearms dealers in the city to pay $25 for every firearm sold and $0.05 or $0.02 for every round of ammunition sold, depending on the caliber of ammunition.

The National Rifle Association suedSeattle over the tax,  as well as mandatory reporting of lost or stolen firearms. The lawsuit accuses the city of violating Washington state law, which prohibits local governments from adopting laws related to firearms unless those local ordinances are specifically authorized.

The NRA was joined in the suit by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation.

Judge Robinson, however, said in her ruling Tuesday, "The tax imposed by the Ordinance under the City’s constitutional and legislative authority to impose taxes, which is separate from its regulatory authority under its police power, is not preempted by RCW 9.41.290” -- the state law.

“I’m gratified by Judge Robinson’s thorough analysis, and congratulate our team of attorneys who argued the case before her last Friday,” City Attorney Pete Holmes said. "The NRA needs to butt out of Seattle's efforts to enact sensible gun safety legislation."

Welcoming the ruling, Mayor Ed Murray said, “Guns now kill more people in the United States than automobiles. Our community will not stand by as so many in our city, particularly young people of color, continue to pay the highest price for inaction on gun violence at the national and state level. For too long, we have had insufficient research and data on gun violence in Seattle to help guide our response.  We will now have critical funding to advance our work on gun violence research and prevention.”

City Council President Tim Burgess, sponsor of the "gun violence tax" law that is to take effect in January, issued the following statement in response to the judge's ruling:

“We established the gun violence tax as a legitimate and appropriate way to raise revenue for gun safety research and prevention programs. The NRA and its allies always oppose these common sense steps to shine light on the gun violence epidemic. They have blocked funding for basic gun safety research at the federal level for decades. But in Seattle it is different. Judge Robinson saw through the NRA’s distorted efforts to put gun industry profits ahead of public safety.”