Seattle To Explore Gun & Ammo Tax

Seattle city council president Tim Burgess, left, with Mayor Ed Murray.

Seattle city council president Tim Burgess, left, with Mayor Ed Murray.

Seattle city council president Tim Burgess has concocted the latest scheme to stem “gun violence”, and it has gun rights supporters upset.

Burgess has put together a plan that involves implementing a city wide tax on firearms and ammunition purchases. A gun purchase would get a $25 tax added to the cost, and ammo would be charged an additional 5 cents per round.

His official press release includes the following:


The revenue proceeds from the gun violence tax would be dedicated to prevention programs and research intended to reduce the burden of gun violence on Seattle residents and neighborhoods.

Taxpayers in Seattle pay for millions of dollars in emergency medical care every year for people who have been shot,” said Council President Burgess. “It’s time for the gun industry to chip in to help defray these costs.”

Under the gun violence tax, firearms dealers would pay $25 for every firearm sold and $0.05 for every round of ammunition sold. The City Budget Office estimates the gun violence tax will raise between $300,000 and $500,000 a year.

“Gun violence is a public health epidemic, but we can alleviate it with focused research and prevention funded by this new revenue source. Basic research can save lives,” added Burgess.

What’s more unsettling is what The Stranger has uncovered on the issue:

According to Burgess’ office, 253 gunshot victims treated at Harborview last year cost taxpayers $12 million. A 2013 report from Seattle and King County Public Health says firearm deaths cost $177 million in medical expenses and lost productivity between 2007 and 2011, and the average charge for a gunshot hospitalization was $66,000.

The money raised from the new taxes wouldn’t address much of those costs. Instead, it would be specifically funneled into an intervention program, in which people hospitalized because of gun violence would meet with doctors and social workers before being released.

A study commissioned by the city council and released last summer compared people hospitalized for gunshot wounds and those hospitalized for other reasons. Those in the hospital for gunshot wounds were 30 times more likely to be hospitalized again for another gun injury and 11 times more likely to die from gun violence in the next five years. Harborview’s Injury Prevention and Research Center created the intervention program as a way to try to reduce that return rate, but has had trouble finding funding to start it, Burgess says, which is where the tax comes in. The approach is modeled on similar programs that focus on alcohol and substance abuse.

Mayor Ed Murray praised Burgess’ proposal by saying:

“I want to thank Councilmember Burgess for his leadership. This proposal provides critical funding for gun violence research and prevention. We will have more resources to support youth education and other efforts that we know help prevent guns violence in our streets. For too long, we have had insufficient research and data on gun violence in Seattle to help guide our response.

“We know the people of Seattle demand action on this issue, not more talk. Last year at the ballot box, voters approved greater accountability in background checks for gun sales. This proposal builds on that momentum by funding more tools to reduce the devastating impacts that guns have on our community.”

Precise Shooter, a gun store in Seattle, released the following statement:

Seattle City Council is considering imposing and tax of $25 on each sale of a firearm, and $0.05 on sale of a round of ammunition. If this comes to pass, Precise Shooter will be forced to close its doors, as we will not be able to compete with gun stores outside city limits.

There are only two stores in Seattle selling majority of the firearms – us and Discount Guns on Lake City Way. There are 7 stores just outside the city limits who will be unaffected by the legislation, and where all of the firearms business will move, should this legislation come to pass.

This would mean that this legislation would make no difference on the gun ownership or crime rates – but it will actually reduce Seattle revenue by tens of thousands of dollars by moving all firearms business to outside the city limits.

You can reach Burgess’ office at 206-684-8806 and Mayor Ed Murray’s office at

You Might Like