Tacoma councilmember proposes tax on guns and ammo

TACOMA, Wash. -- A Tacoma councilmember wants to put a tax on guns and ammunition in the city.

Councilmember Ryan Mello announced the plan Thursday, saying he's fed up with gun violence.

"In the last 30 days we've had three gun-related homicides in the city of Tacoma alone," Mello said.

He says that is why he's looking to make a change.

"I think in Tacoma we're tired of just thoughts and prayers, that's just not cutting it. We gotta do something."

Thursday, Mello announced his proposal for a gun and ammunition tax for the city. The tax would be similar to the one passed in Seattle.

Like Seattle's, Mello says there would be a $25 tax on all gun purchases. There would also be a 2-cent per round tax on ammunition .22 caliber and below and a 5-cent tax on ammunition above .22 caliber.

Unlike Seattle's tax, Mello says he would like to see a third tier placed on high capacity rounds.

"I absolutely know most gun owners are responsible individuals, but we need the revenue to do appropriate youth violence prevention programming," Mello said.

Mello says all the money from the tax would go toward educating kids about gun violence through different organizations in the city.  However, some say that is a high price to pay.

"It would literally put me out of business; that's that. That's my livelihood. I'm done," said Dan Davies, owner of Mary's Pistols.

Davies says a tax like this would force himself and other local gun store businesses out of Tacoma. He says he believes trying to fix the issue of gun violence with a tax is not the right way to make a change.

"Instead of taxing guns we need to address the mental health problems in Pierce County," he said.

Mello says something needs to change.

"There's not one thing we're going to do that's going to curb gun violence, I think it's going to be a lot of things that we're gonna do," he said. "But we can't sit on our hands and do nothing."

Mello says the goal is to have his proposal go to the council for a vote this fall and take effect at the start of 2020.  Besides him, Mayor Victoria Woodards and Councilmember Catherine Ushka have also signed their names to the proposal.