Gun control

Once again the city of Seattle is attempting to enact gun control laws contrary to Washington state law regarding firearms ownership, according to the Second Amendment Foundation and the National Rifle Association.

The NRA and the SAF say they are suing the city of Seattle over its adoption this month of a so-called “gun violence tax,” as well as mandatory reporting of lost or stolen firearms.

The plaintiffs allege the city’s adoption of a retail sales tax on guns and ammunition is a clear violation of Washington state’s 33-year-old state preemption law that does not allow cities, counties or political subdivisions to enact laws relating to firearms not authorized by state law.

On Monday, the organizations – joined by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, two city firearms retailers and two private citizens – filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court. The suit accuses the city of violating Washington state law which prohibits local governments from adopting laws related to firearms unless those local ordinances are specifically authorized.

Named as defendants are Mayor Ed Murray, the city’s Department of Finance and Administrative Services and that department’s director, Glen Lee.

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“We’ve been down this path before with Seattle when we sued them and won, knocking out their attempt to ban guns in city park facilities,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb. “The city does not seem to understand that no matter how they wrap this package, it’s still a gun control law and it violates Washington’s long-standing preemption statute.”

“Once again, anti-gun activists in Seattle have chosen to violate the Washington state Constitution and trample upon the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” said Chris Cox, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “They tried to enact similar regulations back in 2009 and lost. It’s a shame to see such a waste of public resources on issues the courts have already ruled to be unconstitutional.”

“NSSF has no alternative but to be an active party in this lawsuit against the City of Seattle’s attempt to interfere in the lawful commerce in firearms and ammunition on the grounds that it violates Washington State’s preemption statute that blocks cities from regulating the sale of firearms on their own,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. “The Seattle ordinance is nothing but a ‘poll tax’ on the Second Amendment and an effort to drive Seattle’s firearms retailers out of business.”

This is the first time the SAF, NRA and NSSF have collaborated in a lawsuit.

The tax amounts to $25 for each firearm sold in the city, plus 5 cents per round for nearly every type of ammunition. The revenue would be used for gun safety research and gun violence prevention programs.

City Attorney Pete Holmes argues the gun violence tax falls squarely under the Seattle’s taxing authority.

But Keane disagreed. “No municipality can be permitted to set itself apart as a city-state, in defiance of existing law, especially for the purpose of financially penalizing law-abiding gun owners for problems they did not create and crimes they didn’t commit,” he said. “Just as we did in 2009, we cautioned the city against adopting this tax and our concerns were ignored for the sake of political grandstanding. The law is very clear. Cities in Washington cannot set up their own gun laws, and we expect the courts to agree.”

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