The Tacoma City Council passed a firearms tax on Nov. 12 that will take effect in January. Tacoma City Council Member Ryan Mello proposed a firearms tax that would require an additional $25 to be paid with each purchase of a firearm.
This includes a 2 cent increase for each round below .22- caliber and a 5 cent increase for anything above.
“This isn’t just about mass shootings, gun violence happens in urban centers like Tacoma all the time, and they’re really ripping communities apart,” Mello said in an interview with The News Tribune.
Mello’s also said the tax would go toward programs that prevent and/or bring awareness to gun violence. The tax mirrors one passed in August 2015 in Seattle to fund gun-violence research at Harborview Medical Center.
Since the tax was passed in Seattle, many firearm retailers have left Seattle and taken their businesses elsewhere. Many retailers in Tacoma are concerned they’ll have to do the same.
Since the firearms tax was passed in Seattle, retailers in Seattle have seen a decline in firearm sales across the city, while incidents involving guns have been steadily climbing over the last few years.
In 2016, Seattle’s firearms tax raised $104,000, but the number has been steadily declining each year, with results in 2017 showing that Seattle made $93,000 from the tax. Tacoma City Council voted unanimously on Nov. 12, after the vote was postponed previously, and approved the tax to go into effect at the beginning of this next year.
When Puyallup City Council Member Cyndy Jacobsen was asked for her thoughts on Tacoma’s new tax, she expressed worry for those businesses that depend on firearms sales that are based in Tacoma.
“My suspicion is that it’s going to have the unintended consequence of just driving out the businesses that sell firearms and ammunition from Tacoma,” she said, “people will avoid the tax and legitimate family businesses will have to move out of town.”
“To Tacoma residents not wanting to pay the new taxes, Puyallup has several sporting goods stores, and an ammo store on River Road, and the WashingtonArms Collectors at the fair six weekends a year,” said Puyallup Deputy Mayor Tom Swanson.
Jacobsen said Puyallup could be an option for businesses looking to relocate.
“Puyallup is open for business. You know, if a business wants to locate here, we’re friendly,” said Jacobsen.
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