Court upholds Seattle’s tax on guns, ammo
In an 8-1 ruling handed down Thursday, the state’s high court swatted away a challenge from gun rights groups and retailers to Seattle’s controversial “gun violence tax.”
The panel held that large cities such as Seattle under state law can establish and collect local taxes and that, contrary to the lawsuit claims, the $25 fee on guns and up to 5-cents per round of ammunition, does not violate Washington’s preemption law.
“While courts should be dubious of regulations masquerading as taxes (and vice versa), in this case [plaintiffs] offer no convincing evidence that the Ordinance has a regulatory purpose or intent,” said Justice Debra Stephens for the majority. “It is a tax.”
The suit, brought by the National Rifle Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation and Second Amendment Foundation in 2015, argued the ordinance was a poll tax on the right to bear arms and an effort to drive Seattle’s firearms retailers out of business. As such, they held it violated Washington’s 1983 preemption law barring cities from establishing regulations stronger than the state’s when it came to public firearm policy.