Seattle. The epicenter of progressivism never fails to astound the world with bad ideas. They lead the charge in almost every social program, and the results vary from null to devastating. Perhaps their biggest blunder in recent years has stayed surprisingly under most radars. They passed a creative gun control law that had lofty aims of stemming a recent tide of violence in the city. The results were not up to expectations, and after reading the details, they may have inadvertently converted a whole new wave of 2nd Amendment supporters.
The new tax was passed in 2015 and took effect on the first of January, 2016. The idea was to place a “sin” tax on guns and ammunition that would deter violent crime and raise revenue. Specifically, an additional $25 tax was tacked onto all firearm sales and a $0.05 flat tax was added to every round of ammunition. This additional revenue was expected to raise between $300,000 and $500,000 annually and would fund research into the causal relationships driving gun violence. Overall, the total plan was to reduce the total cost of gun violence to taxpayers.
Results of the Tax
As anyone who has fired a gun can attest, five cents per round adds up quickly. Unsurprisingly, the tax has slaughtered gun and ammunition sales within the city limits. Most gun retailers are reporting a 60-percent decline in gun sales specifically. A 20-percent decrease in store-wide sales has afflicted sporting retailers that include firearms in their inventory. This has led to layoffs and added a new component of financial struggle to Seattle, a city that was already lagging behind national job production. In the end, these costs are probably worth it because it has curbed gun violence and funded good research.
Only it hasn’t. Gun crime in Seattle is climbing faster than anywhere else in the country. Comparing the first five months of 2017 to the same span of time before the tax is shocking. Overall shots fired are up by 13 percent, and that has contributed to a 37-percent rise in gun injuries. Those are the small numbers. Gun-related deaths within the city are up a full 100 percent since before the tax. These rising rates obviously cost the city in intangible expenses, such as loss of life, but they are also draining coffers for medical, civil and law enforcement bills that have risen as a result.
If that wasn’t enough, the revenue from the tax is way below estimates. The city refuses to release the actual data, but all indicators suggest that fewer than $200,000 were raised. Considering that the gun violence study was commissioned for $550,000, it is now apparent that taxpayers are on the hook for research that was supposed to be free. If that wasn’t enough, experience suggests that the study will likely be biased to support the whims of Seattle’s current ruling class.
Perhaps most ironically, the total revenue generated by the gun tax is less than what was lost in general sales taxes due to the general decline in business. It’s difficult to imagine a piece of legislature failing more completely than this.
The Bigger Picture
This circles back to the age-old arguments between the left and right. Liberals continue to contend that gun control is the only way to curb gun violence. Raw data couldn’t be more obviously contrary to that position. Since the early 90s, gun sales and ownership across the country have increased dramatically. Sales are more than double what they were 20 years ago, and depending on the researcher, household ownership levels have either held steady or grown by five to seven percent. During that span, the liberal narrative would mandate a surge of violence across the country.
Instead, all violence, especially gun violence, has dropped precipitously. Violent crimes are currently about one-tenth of 1993 levels. During that change, more types of guns have become accessible to the masses, and production is up. To top it off, violent and gun crime statistics include suicide. Since the early 90s, suicide has jumped by nearly 50 percent across all demographics. Suicide has always been the largest component of gun and violent crime, which means the rest of the metrics have had to recede far faster to compensate.
The left is always scheming to curb gun ownership. As measured by the success of their ideas, curbing crime statistics is never the aim or the result of their efforts. In America, increased gun ownership and 2nd Amendment participation have been the only constants to correlate with drops in violent crime.