The NRA lawsuit seeking to exempt gun dealers from a new tax was rejected by a state trial court earlier this week. If Judge Palmer Robinson’s decision is upheld, this tax on gun dealers will fund programs to prevent gun violence as well as gun safety research.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray (D), signed an ordinance placing a $25 tax on every gun sold within the city. This ordinance also placed a 2-5 cent tax on each round of ammunition sold within city borders. The National Rifle Association, as well as several other pro-gun organizations and individuals, sued, citing these taxes as illegal. They claimed the taxes violate a Washington State law which prohibits the government from enacting any gun regulations whatsoever.
In the opinion of Judge Robinson, however, the power to tax is entirely different from the power to regulate. The ordinance does not restrict or regulate in any way which guns or how many guns gun dealers can sell, it only makes them pay a tax.
While this decision is a victory over the influence of the NRA, it’s a small victory when facing the true scope of America’s gun violence epidemic.
Even setting aside lost lives, Seattle City Counsel President Tim Burgess estimates that “the direct medical costs of treating 253 gunshot victims at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center last year surpassed $17 million, with taxpayers covering more than $12 million of that,” according to the Seattle Times. Yet the tax challenged by the NRA is only expected to raise between $300,000 and $500,000.
Some of this revenue will go toward gun violence research, which is almost non-existent due to a 20 year federal ban on researching gun violence, largely influenced by pro-gun groups such as the NRA.
It is plain to see why gun rights groups actively try to discourage such research, as it always undermines their arguments. According to a 2013 Center for American Progress report, the ten states with the weakest gun control laws have 104% more gun violence than the 10 states with the most stringent gun regulations.
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