Seattle City Council passes gun and ammunition tax; opponents threaten lawsuit

SEATTLE -- The Seattle City Council on Monday unanimously passed a new gun and ammunition tax. But opponents said they would be filing suit to stop the law from taking effect.

The council adopted the tax on an 8-0 vote, along with a companion measure to require mandatory reporting of lost or stolen firearms.

The tax amounts to $25 for each firearm sold in the city, plus 5 cents per round for nearly every type of ammunition.

That means more than 20 licensed gun dealers operating within city limits are facing hefty taxes starting January.

City leaders say they hope to raise $300,000 to $500,000 a year through the new gun tax.

“Guns are out of control in this country,” Terri Hollinsworth, of Grandmothers Against Gun Violence, said.

“About a third of homes in Seattle have guns in them and our goal is that every one of those guns are safety stored,” added the group's Margaret Heldring.

Grandmothers Against Gun Violence marched to the steps of City Hall Monday in support of taxing guns and ammunition.

The “gun tax is designed to raise money for gun violence research and prevention programs,” City Council member Tim Burgess said.

But opponents of the measure took center stage in front of the City Council, calling the measure unfair and saying it will be ineffective.

One was Marilyn Perry, who is with a gun rights coalition.

"As a recent victim of a felony violence in Seattle, I'm appalled that you are enacting an illegal tax requiring law-abiding residents to pay for the impact of violence committed by criminals," she said.

“Switzerland has a fully automatic weapon in every household, yet violent crime rates are very low. The real problem in violent crime is economic disparity,” said gun shop owner Sergey Solyanik.

Solyanik said the new taxes would cost his business about $50,000 a year, an amount he cannot afford.

“No way the city will be making any money on this bill. In fact, they will be losing money,” Solyanik said.

He plans to move his gun store out of city limits, he said, if a lawsuit is not enough to stop the taxes.

“The only real purpose of this legislation is to run gun stores out of the city. I know it, you know it, the courts will know it,” Solyanik said.

In addition to the taxes, council members also passed a law requiring owners to report lost or stolen guns.

The Second Amendment Foundation said the city’s new law goes against Washington law, which prevents any city or municipality from implementing stricter gun laws than the state.