City Council to consider two new laws ‘to improve gun safety’

Two proposals today from City Councilmember Tim Burgess are described in his announcement as “part of the City’s latest effort to improve gun safety in Seattle.” One would be a tax to be charged to gun and ammunition sellers, with its proceeds “dedicated to prevention programs and research intended to reduce the burden of gun violence on Seattle residents and neighborhoods.” The other would require filing a report with SPD if a gun is lost or stolen. Read on for more:

Burgess’s announcement continues:

“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.

In 2013, Seattle became the first city in the nation to conduct basic research on gun safety. The City Council-funded research led to a report from The Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center that established that “gun violence begets gun violence.” The research found that individuals hospitalized for a firearm injury were 30 times more likely to be re-hospitalized for another firearm injury than people admitted to the hospital for non-injury reasons.

As a result, Harborview’s research and medical staff developed a hospital-based intervention program for gun violence victims designed to reduce future hospitalizations from gun violence. Research and programmatic efforts like what the Harborview staff has proposed would be eligible for funding from the gun violence tax.

“I want to thank Councilmember Burgess for his leadership. We know the people of Seattle demand action on this issue, not more talk,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “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.”

“A tax on guns and ammunition makes sense, since the public pays the majority of the costs for gun violence in the form of medical costs for gunshot victims and of course the police and criminal justice costs of protecting citizens from gun violence,” said Dr. Fred Rivara, core faculty member of Harborview’s Injury Prevention and Research Center. “Using revenue from such a tax to help gun violence victims and prevent future gun violence is smart. The City Council should be lauded for their leadership in addressing this problem in our community.”

“Gun violence is both a public safety and a public health issue. I fully support funding effective intervention programs to reduce gun violence. The Harborview research into repeat offenders and victims uses both public health and public safety lenses to address the needs of people who are most at-risk from gun violence,” said Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole.

Washington State levies other taxes that similarly mitigate public health impacts, like current taxes on the sale of cigarettes, alcohol, and wood-burning stoves.

Mandatory Reporting of Lost and Stolen Guns

Seattle police officers have taken into their evidence lockers 2,657 firearms since January 2012. Guns play a significant role in many crimes against persons in Seattle: 69% of homicides, 17% of robbery incidents and 8% of aggravated assaults between January 2012 and May 2015.

“Illegal guns cause serious harm in our neighborhoods,” said Council President Burgess. “This simple requirement will help law enforcement trace guns used in crimes and solve more cases. It is a straightforward and important step for gun safety.”

A January 2011 national poll found that 94% of the respondents favored such a requirement, with similar levels of support among gun-owning households. Another nationwide poll in May 2012 likewise found strong, two-thirds support from gun owners for this proposal.

Under the proposed bill, individuals would have to report a lost or stolen firearm within 24 hours of discovery. Those found in violation of this requirement would face a civil penalty of up to $500.

Federal law currently requires firearms businesses with a federal license to report lost or stolen guns, but the law does not extend to individual gun owners.

“Governments tax cars and gasoline to build and maintain safe roads; it only makes sense to tax the source of gun violence—guns and ammunition—to address their impact on public health and safety,” City Attorney Pete Holmes said. “The tax measure and the mandatory reporting requirement are strong steps toward a safer city. I look forward to helping to implement these ordinances and defending them as needed.”

A package of materials related to the proposed gun safety measures is available here, including:

· Frequently Asked Questions about the gun violence tax

· Frequently Asked Questions about mandatory reporting of lost or stolen guns

· A timeline of recent gun safety actions in Seattle

· Gun violence tax legislation

· Mandatory reporting of lost or stolen guns legislation

The committee meeting is on Wednesday, July 15th, at 9:30 am.

47 Replies to "City Council to consider two new laws 'to improve gun safety'"

  • Jeff July 8, 2015 (10:53 am)

    Gun dealers in neighboring cities, reached for comment, are strongly in favor of the measure.

  • Smokeycretin9 July 8, 2015 (11:05 am)

    Soooooo…. where does the thug send in his tax when he buys a gun from another thug behind the 7-11?

    (End sarcasm)

  • Kevin July 8, 2015 (11:20 am)

    I’m sure this is a big deal for all the licensed gun shops in WS…

    • WSB July 8, 2015 (11:41 am)

      Kevin – in West Seattle, I can think of two – Big 5 in Westwood Village, and the pawn shop at Fauntleroy/Edmunds, which frequently has signage advertising firearms. Anyplace else?

  • Ray July 8, 2015 (11:21 am)

    Such a pointless, meaningless set of proposals.

    How many actual gun retail/ammo shops are there in the Seattle city limits> I would bet you can count them on your hands.

    No Wal-Marts.
    Few box sports stores.
    No gun sales at REI….
    Literally just a few.

    This is just a dog/pony show for political points.

    Also it is illegal per state law.

  • jim July 8, 2015 (11:22 am)

    Posturing that will cost taxpayers more money defending the measure than it would raise. Just like the ban on guns in parks, it’s marketing of the politician’s reputation at our expense.

  • B July 8, 2015 (11:32 am)

    Hey, criminals don’t follow the laws, therefor why do we need laws!

    (end sarcasm)

  • observationcity July 8, 2015 (11:59 am)

    This is just the local barometer of where this issue is headed toward on the state level: mandatory gun registration, culminating in the repeal of CCW and eventually a complete handgun ban and confiscation. Bank on it.

  • 33pete July 8, 2015 (12:07 pm)

    They need to make this a state wide initiative. That said, sometimes you have to start small.

  • Oakley34 July 8, 2015 (12:07 pm)

    Requiring a police report if a gun is lost or stolen is a common sense proposal that should already be a nat’l requirement. And, before any of you gun lovers start parroting your 2nd amendment rights…
    unless you’re in a well regulated militia you should put a sock in it.

  • Erik July 8, 2015 (12:29 pm)

    I can only think of three actual gun shops in Seattle, I’m sure there are more, but I’m also sure Tacoma and Bremerton have more per capita.

    Regardless these ordinance are illegal as RCW 9.41.240 states the state preempts all local laws.

    Seattle tried this same thing in city parks, years ago and it failed. Seattle officials need to learn they live In a state where their opinion is the minority and stop trying pointless stuff like this.

    Also who does requiring stolen gun reporting help? Unless you know who stole it the cops can’t do anything other then file a report

  • ScubaFrog July 8, 2015 (12:37 pm)

    We still have ‘open-carry’ in this city. Maybe they could start with banning open carry. It is far too easy to relieve someone of a sidearm (or rifle) they’re carrying openly.

    I’m ok with the proposed tax, and where its proceeds go. Hopefully it’s an astronomical tax.

    The NRA and gun lobby have fleeced this country in the name of “‘muh freedums!” and “‘murca!”. Sadly, the NRA has directly led to the most heinous civil and human rights abuses of all – theft of life and physical injury on a remarkable scale. It’s time for moderate minds to prevail in regards to guns and the 2nd Amendment.

  • JoB July 8, 2015 (12:43 pm)

    if you faced liability for any crime committed with your firearm you would have incentives to report lost or stolen firearms.
    why should guns be a “special” sort of product for which liability is suspended?

  • Jeff July 8, 2015 (12:47 pm)

    Erik, on your last question, it’s because people against gun ownership want it to be OK to blame a victim of crime for the next crime committed. Now just imagine the public response if someone suggested that rape victims who don’t report it were then liable in some part got future rapes committed. Victim blaming is wrong, period.

    JoB, if someone steals my car and runs down a pedestrian, am I liable?

  • Eric1 July 8, 2015 (1:05 pm)

    Just when I thought that the city clowncil could do no worse. I guess I am wrong again. Most of the gun violence is self-inflicted, domestic, or by gangs. How about we work on the problems and not the tool.
    If they are worried about the unpaid bills at Harborzoo, do some “preventative maintenance” work in the south end. Oh, that’s right, the DOJ and Seattle politicians think that residents of Rainier Beach are no more likely to have illegal guns (or be victims of gun violence) than residents of Madison Park.

  • Fiwa Jcbbb July 8, 2015 (1:06 pm)

    Big 5 sells rifles and ammo, no handguns or assault weapons. The guys at the Pawnshop on Fauntleroy pack heat on their hips in the store, and will sell any kind of gun they can get their hands on, but I don’t think they sell ammo.
    I do think it interesting that the City Council wants to address a needs-to-be topic with yet another regressive tax: A $125 Shotgun gets the same $25 levied as a $1500 Assault Rifle. A $.05 tax on each round of ammunition gets $25 for a brick of 500 .22 long rifle shells (most often used to kill paper targets and beer bottles), while a box of 25 Armor Piercing hollowpoint AK 47 rounds (most often used to kill other gang members and/or cops) gets taxed at $1.

  • Jim P. July 8, 2015 (1:08 pm)

    The reporting requirement for lost or stolen is common sense. The tax is ridiculous. The majority of ammo sold is .22, much of which costs less than $.05 per round so the tax would more than double the cost, which I am sure is the actual intent.

    People who shoot .22 often buy it in thousand round quantities as you can go through it like popcorn at a movie while “plinking”.

  • jetcitydude July 8, 2015 (1:15 pm)

    What a joke. Its about revenue not safety.

  • Nick July 8, 2015 (1:28 pm)

    Someone is trying to get elected so they thought this would get votes and the suck up more tax revenue. This is the worst council and mayor combo in quite sometime.

  • Theking July 8, 2015 (1:46 pm)

    Now that health insurance is mandatory, why bother with this proposal? You could make an argument about how anything is dangerous and tax it. The overburdened taxpayers’ frustration is overflowing.

  • WS4life July 8, 2015 (2:17 pm)

    Why not also just add more tax to knife sales, crowbars, baseball bats, screwdrivers & boiling hot water while they’re at it…
    end sarcasm

    Stop taxing the poor & start taxing the rich!

  • me July 8, 2015 (2:21 pm)

    I like the idea. Any naysayers have any alternative suggestions on how to start dealing with gun violence? (silence)

  • Ben Dover July 8, 2015 (2:38 pm)

    Add a tax to cans of spray paint, if they are not already taxed, to help pay for the clean up. Any and everything should be taxed. Sarcasm off.

  • Born on Alki 59 July 8, 2015 (2:57 pm)

    This naysayer says lock up gun wielding criminals for a very long time instead of the usual slap on the wrist that happens all too often. Don’t tax law abiding citizens who purchase guns for recreational use and protection against criminals released from prison too soon. Felons can not legally purchase firearms. This proposal will do nothing to curb gun violence and only taxes law abiding citizens. Vision Zero.

  • nrprise July 8, 2015 (3:12 pm)


    “why should guns be a “special” sort of product for which liability is suspended?”

    Liability is not suspended for firearm misuse. If someone I misuse it, I am liable. Same as with a vehicle. However, if someone steals or borrows my vehicle and misuses it, I am not liable. In the vehicle borrowing case, if I had reason to believe they’d misuse it (like they were a drunk driver), they are still liable and I could be found negligent (possibly criminally). I can’t think of ANY case where someone would be liable OR found negligent for their vehicle’s misuse after it’s stolen.

    You seem to want the liability related to firearms to be “special” in that you want a VICTIM of a theft to still be liable after their firearm’s misuse is completely out of their control.

  • nrprise July 8, 2015 (3:29 pm)


    Charging me a 25% tax on a $100 .22lr heritage single action plinging revolver and a >200% tax on bulk .22lr ammo purchases does what to “deal with gun violence?”.

    That kind of gun and ammunition would be laughed at by even a felon who couldn’t own it because it’s only really useful for putting holes in paper (and slowly at that since it’s very slow to fire and reload).

    I think you’re confusing “dealing with gun violence” (which should be trying to stop the violence) with “punishing lawful gun owners” (since we’re the only ones that will be paying these taxes when we lawfully buy a firearm or every time we practice).

    Excessive taxes on ammunition deter practice. Regular practice decreases chances of accidents. Are you going to give someone defending themselves a pass if they hit an innocent person because regular practice was too expensive? I doubt it. You’d rather use the side-effects of this law as further evidence that people shouldn’t use guns for self-defense.

  • Brewmeister July 8, 2015 (3:44 pm)


    I’m sorry, how exactly does this deal with gun violence?

    How does this help prevent gun violence?

    Maybe I’m missing something but this just seems stupid. Oh, and illegal. Oh, and just concocted to get votes.

  • Born on Alki 59 July 8, 2015 (3:48 pm)

    Smith and Wesson is like an American Express card. Don’t leave home without it. How does responsible gun ownership make one liable for funding a “gun violence” initiative?

  • Keith July 8, 2015 (4:17 pm)


  • Paul July 8, 2015 (7:47 pm)

    “A tax on guns and ammunition makes sense, since the public pays the majority of the costs for gun violence…”

    This is nothing more than political posturing. Go ahead and tax firearms and ammo, people won’t buy them _legally_ in the city.

    The bright side is that this tax makes the trip to Wades or West Coast Armory pay for itself….

  • tw July 8, 2015 (8:42 pm)

    That just might cover shipping costs with online ammunition orders. Brilliant.

  • Ex-Westwood Resident July 8, 2015 (9:09 pm)

    First – ALL crimes committed with a gun gets; 5 years MANDATORY added to the sentence of the crime if they are a LEGAL gun owner, 10 years if they are an ILLEGAL gun owner.
    Second – If a person who is legally forbidden to own or possess a gun is found with one is sent to prison for 5 years, MANDATORY. Add six months for every round found in the gun and/or in their possession.
    Third – Remove the “age restrictions. If you are old enough to have a gun, you are old enough to do the time, i.e. 10-17 year old committing crimes where a gun is used. 10 YEARS MINIMUM, with six months for every round in the gun or in their possession.
    Fourth – Gun crimes CAN NOT be plea bargained to a lower charge.
    How are those suggestions?

  • KT July 8, 2015 (9:15 pm)

    Considering the utter lack of gun/ammo retailers within the City of Seattle, I would truly love to see how the City Budget Office came up with a revenue estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. I would also like to see the estimate of costs to administer this tax. And finally isn’t it a bit distasteful that a “core faculty member of Harborview’s Injury Prevention and Research Center” is praising the City Council for its proposal when they plan to reap the benefit of it?

  • Ex-Westwood Resident July 8, 2015 (9:15 pm)

    unless you’re in a well regulated militia you should put a sock in it.
    In the 18th Century, when the Bill of Rights was written, “well regulated” meant “well maintained” and EVERY able bodied man was part of the militia.
    Besides the USSC has settled that argument NUMEROUS times.

  • JoB July 8, 2015 (9:16 pm)

    the only way to protect yourself against liability if your car is stolen and someone uses it to injure another is to report it stolen.
    why should guns be different?
    your gun. your responsibility

  • Ex-Westwood Resident July 8, 2015 (9:23 pm)

    By reading your comment, I get the distinct feeling that you have no clue as to the difference between a LEGAL gun owner (who’s rights the NRA fights to protect), that follows ALL laws in order to obtain a license and ALL requirements in purchasing a handgun and an ILLEGAL gun owner (who the NRA is trying to get you gun grabbers to realize are the ones who commit 95%, if not more, of gun crimes) that OBEY ZERO LAWS IN GETTING A GUN.

  • Ex-Westwood Resident July 8, 2015 (9:39 pm)

    @Fiwa Jcbbb
    There are very few gun shops that sell “Assault Weapons.”
    The true definition (NOT one ginned up by some liberal hack or politician) of an Assault Weapon has NOTHING to do with appearance. It has to do with the modes of fire.
    A TRUE Assault Weapon has three modes of fire:
    1 – Safe (yes, safe is a mode).
    2 – Semi-Automatic; one round for EACH pull of the trigger.
    3 – Full Automatic, burst fire; as long as the trigger is depressed, it will fire rounds till the magazine is empty, or the burst limit has been reach. The M-4 has a three round burst vice a full auto.
    The AR-15 is NOT an Assault Weapon as it, and any other rifles you can buy at a store, only has firing modes 1 and 2.
    That said, you can buy (from SPECIFIC dealers that are Federally licensed to do so) and own a TRUE Assault Rifle but ONLY if you get a Federal Class III Firearm Permit that are not only extremely difficult to get, but expensive as well. If you do get one you ARE tracked by BATF&E and ALL “full auto” weapons are required to be registered.

  • Ex-Westwood Resident July 8, 2015 (9:43 pm)

    So are you saying that if I leave for a weekend trip on Thursday and my car gets stolen Friday morning, used in a hit-and-run fatality Saturday night and I didn’t know it was stolen until I returned on Sunday night, I will be held liable????

  • informed on the subject July 9, 2015 (12:30 am)

    @ex-westwood you had good intentions, but assault weapons are only semi-auto. Assault weapons is a made up term to make a normal sporting rifle sound scary. You meant assault rifles which are select fire military rifles.

    Too the rest of the people who think this is a good idea you are wrong. This will literally do nothing to curb gun violence, and could potentially raise it. There is a direct correlation between the amount of guns in an area and the violent crime rate. It was found that the more there is in an area the less violent crime in that area. I suggest reading this sources are cited most is from the FBI, and it will answer all your questions about guns.

  • JTB July 9, 2015 (9:14 am)

    At least the alcoholic beverage industry has advertising to promote awareness of responsible drinking. Even though there’s room to quibble about how effective it is, at least it’s something.

    Too bad the NRA has nothing comparable.

    So just as with tobacco smoking, the responsibility falls to the public, through government action, to obtain the funds necessary to reduce the public health consequences of gun violence.

    This effort seems likely to fall well short of generating meaningful revenue for reasons others have pointed out. Perhaps with time, more effective and broader (state-wide) efforts will ensue. But of course, that will likely involve opposition from the NRA.

  • Ex-Westwood Resident July 9, 2015 (12:22 pm)

    @informed on the subject
    Sorry, but you are incorrect.
    The first few slides explains the definition of what the difference between “Assault Weapon” and “Assault Rifle” and “Semi-Auto” rifle.
    “Prior to 1989, the term “assault weapon” did not exist in the lexicon of firearms. It is a political term, developed by anti-gun publicists to expand the category of “assault rifles.”
    “ What some people call “assault weapons” function like every other normal firearm—they fire only one bullet each time the trigger is pressed. Unlike automatics (machine guns), they do not fire continuously as long as the trigger is held. … Today in America, most handguns are semi-automatics, as are many long guns, including the best-selling rifle today, the AR-15, the model used in the Newtown shooting. Some of these guns look like machine guns, but they do not function like machine guns. ”

  • Ex-Westwood Resident July 9, 2015 (12:41 pm)

    Get off of the “Cease Fire Washington” site and do your own research. The NRA is the LEADING organization calling for education about guns; their capabilities, uses, function, type, when to use and when NOT to use, and MOST importantly – TRAINING WITH FIREARMS OF ALL TYPES.
    Have you ever heard of the “Eddie the Eagle” program?
    The NRA is also one of the LEADING, if not the leading, organizations calling for MEANINGFUL gun control that will HINDER the ability of those who are NOT allowed to posses firearms, from getting one. Instead of passing meaningless laws that ONLY affect those that FOLLOW THE LAW in obtaining a firearm.

  • Stanley Hill July 9, 2015 (1:13 pm)

    When will people realize that Criminals don’t obey laws. So the truth to this is, Laws will never control or change the actions of criminals! Gun laws will do nothing to stop crime and are a waist of time! All this will do is put the burden of tax on our good citizens.

  • Cascadianone July 9, 2015 (4:15 pm)

    The reporting requirement seems obvious and I fully support it. Seriously, who wouldn’t let the cops know IMMEDIATELY: Hey, I lost my gun, serial #XXXX, if somebody gets shot with it- I didn’t do it!

    As for the tax, it’s stupid. Doesn’t everyone have Obamacare by now??? LOL. Anyway, I only buy ammo down at the Sportsmen’s Warehouse on 4th Ave South- I feel bad for that company if this law goes through- it will just divert business to Walmart and Wades guns in Bellevue.

  • JTB July 9, 2015 (9:22 pm)

    EWR, I don’t even know what Cease Fire Washington is. As to the NRA efforts to promote gun safety education, about a year since I looked at the NRA website and the educational program and quickly realized there was no there there. Now it seems they’ve invested in some new graphics and information on their website, but it’s clear the NRA isn’t taking the program to parents or kids. Rather it is telling parents to tell school administrators that gun safety education is important to them. As I said, the alcoholic beverage industry actually puts out public service and advertising on their own in order to reach consumers. Entirely different.

  • Brewmeister July 10, 2015 (11:44 am)


    You are 100% wrong in your assumption.

  • Alan July 10, 2015 (8:01 pm)

    I support this measure and live/vote/pay taxes in the City of Seattle.

Sorry, comment time is over.