Several members of the Tacoma City Council say they are fed up with gun violence and are getting ready to vote on a new guns and ammo tax. Gun store operators fear the new tax will force them out.
The people at Surplus Ammo and Arms say the council should get tougher on criminals rather than tax them out of business. The proposed tax would add $25 to the sale of each gun and an extra 2 cents to 5 cents for each round.
Council members who sponsored the ordinance say this will raise $30,000 each year to fund programs which “promote public safety, prevent gun violence and help offset the impacts and costs of gun violence in the city.”
“The concept is to make sure there’s some sort of deterrence to gun violence in the community and part of that is the possession of weapons and possession of ammunition to use those weapons,” said Tacoma City Councilmember Catherine Ushka.
But Bruce Smith, manager of Surplus Ammo and Arms, argues that the proposed tax will encourage gun shops to leave town.
“The owner of this company has already said if they pass the ordinance we will not be here when it starts. So as of January 1,” Smith said. “This store will go away. It will be gone by then.”
He showed an example on his shelves.
“It is a 1,000-round case," he said. "And on this right here, at 5 cents a round, you’re looking at a $50 difference.”
With that type of added cost, the people at the store say those wanting to buy guns and ammo will just go a few miles away to gun stores in Fife, Federal Way, and Lakewood where they don’t have an extra tax.
The measure comes up for a vote Tuesday evening at a regular council meeting, following public comments. If passed, the new tax would take effect January 1, 2020.
Tacoma's proposed guns-and-ammo tax is similar to what Seattle enacted in 2016, which caused all but one gun store to move to nearby cities.