Court up­holds Seattle’s ‘gun vi­o­lence tax’

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL -

SEATTLE — The Wash­ing­ton Supreme Court up­held Seattle’s so-called gun vi­o­lence tax against a chal­lenge from gun-rights groups Thurs­day.

In an 8-1 de­ci­sion, the jus­tices af­firmed a lower court rul­ing that the levy was valid be­cause it fell within the city’s tax­ing au­thor­ity and be­cause its pri­mary pur­pose was to raise rev­enue for “the pub­lic ben­e­fit.”

The tax, which took ef­fect last year, adds $25 to the price of each firearm sold in the city plus 2 or 5 cents per round of am­mu­ni­tion. It raised $200,000 in its first year, with the money ear­marked for gun-vi­o­lence re­search.

The Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion and other gun rights groups sued, along with gun stores and cus­tomers. They ar­gued that un­der state law, the power to reg­u­late firearms is by and large re­served to the state. Seattle’s mea­sure was prop­erly viewed as a reg­u­la­tion de­signed to hin­der gun sales, not a tax, they ar­gued.

In her opin­ion for the ma­jor­ity, Jus­tice De­bra Stephens dis­agreed, writ­ing that state law “grants Seattle broad au­thor­ity to tax re­tail­ers for the priv­i­lege of do­ing busi­ness within city lim­its,” she wrote.

How­ever, in her dis­sent, Jus­tice Sh­eryl Gor­don McCloud said she be­lieved state law for­bids cities from im­pos­ing taxes on gun sales.

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