Seattle Must Double Gun Violence Tax

Seattle won a significant victory in the courts against our national gun violence epidemic, once again leading the nation where the federal government will not. In an 8-1 decision our State Supreme Court upheld our city’s gun violence tax which funds critical public health research. However, in the year since it was implemented it has become clear the law does not go far enough. The revenue created hit less than half its projected goal and therefore the tax on guns and ammunition must be doubled to fulfill our promise to adequately fund critical research on gun violence.  

The city estimated that approximately $500,000 could be raised from the new tax, but in 2016 it yielded less than $200,000 in its first year of implementation. The city already spent in previous years $275,000 from the General Fund to start up research projects at the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center. Now the city is in the red in its research spending and we must require the gun industry to shoulder the costs some of those costs. For example, in 2014 the direct costs of treating gunshot wounds amounted to over 17 million dollars, and over 70% of these costs were covered by taxpayers.

Now that Seattle has established a legal framework it is an imperative on the city to build off this success. Doubling the gun tax to $50 per gun sale, and .10 cents per ammunition round can get us to our goal of raising a half million dollars so Harborview Medical can expand its gun violence prevention research. We can not kowtow to the National Rifle Association’s threats in the same way Congress has since 1996 to ban research funding on gun violence. We have arrived at a crisis level now too many times like at Sandy Hook, Orlando, and Cafe Racer.