In an 8-0 vote Tuesday night, the city council of Tacoma, Wash., approved new taxes on the sales of firearms and ammunition.
When the taxes take effect July 1, 2020, gun buyers will pay a $25 tax on each purchase, plus 2 cents per round on ammunition of .22 caliber or less, and 5 cents per round on all other types of ammunition, the News Tribune of Tacoma reported.
The new levies are expected to raise about $300,000 annually, with the money designated for violence-prevention programs, the report said.
But Second Amendment advocates questioned the council’s action, saying it amounted to punishing law-abiding gun owners for the actions of a relatively small number of criminals.
They proposed instead more vigorous enforcement of existing laws, the News Tribune reported.
“Everyday firearms protect life,” Jane Milhans, a local certified firearm instructor, told the council during the public-comment portion of the meeting. “It’s our personal protection.”
Manufacturers and retailers also expressed opposition to the plan.
“This type of regressive tax really impacts our ability to be competitive,” CEO Scott Dover of Tacoma-based manufacturer Aero Precision said during public comment. The company employs more than 400 people, the report said.
“This type of regressive tax really impacts our ability to be competitive.”
Last month, retail store manager Bruce Smith told Seattle’s KOMO-TV that Tacoma’s new taxes would drive businesses out of town.
“The owner of this company has already said if they pass the ordinance we will not be here when it starts,” Smith told the station. “So as of January 1, this store will go away. It will be gone by then.”
Council member Catherine Uska described the city’s tax plan as a model that other communities could use in addressing gun violence.
“It gives a signal to other municipalities that it’s something that they can do,” Ushka said, according to the News Tribune.
Council member Keith Blocker had language added to the ordinance that city officials would convene a panel of school officials, gun advocates and other members of the community to review the effects of the new taxes and determine if the council “should consider repealing” the levies at some point.
Council members decided to exclude gun parts and accessories from being taxed, as a way to lessen the burden on businesses, the newspaper reported.