Seattle City Council considers new tax on gun sellers to fund violence prevention, research

The Seattle City Council is considering a new tax on gun sellers to collect money for gun violence prevention and research on how to reduce the impact of gun violence on the city and its residents.

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Under the proposal, gun and ammunition sellers would be charged $25 for every firearm sold in Seattle and 5 cents for every round of ammunition sold. City officials estimate the new tax would collect between $300,000 and $500,000 a year.

City Council President Tim Burgess also has proposed a new law that would require mandatory reporting of lost or stolen firearms to the Seattle Police Department.

Both proposals were scheduled to be discussed by the council's Education and Governance Committee on July 15.

"Taxpayers in Seattle pay for millions of dollars in emergency medical care every year for people who have been shot," Burgess said in a statement. "It's time for the gun industry to chip in to help defray these costs."

The direct medical costs of treating 253 gunshot victims at Harborview Medical Center in 2014 totaled more than $17 million. Taxpayers paid more than $12 million of that cost, according to Burgess' proposal.

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Burgess told The Seattle Times he expects the city would be sued if one or both of his proposals become law, because the state prohibits municipalities from regulating firearms.

Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation, says state law makes the proposed Seattle gun violence tax "dead on arrival."

"They're wrong, and they know it," Gottlieb said. "They're just wearing their anti-gun philosophy on their sleeves."

He cited a lawsuit brought by his organization and other parties that in 2010 forced Seattle to scrap a rule banning guns in parks.

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This story has been corrected to show that the City Council will consider the measures July 15.