As Promised, Seattle Sued

Aug 25, 2015
Last week, prior to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's signing that city's newest tax ordinance, a tariff on the sale of every firearm ($25) and round of ammunition (5 cents per round), the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), speaking for the collective firearms industry, served notice that this was one piece of legislation that wasn't going unchallenged.

He signed it. And true to their word, the NSSF, the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation along with Seattle-based retailers and gun owners, have collectively filed suit in King County Superior Court challenging the tax. The groups all collectively opposed the city ordinance which was labeled a "gun violence tax" but the Council and Mayor Murray proceeded, despite the fact the ordinance seems on the surface to run counter to Washington's longstanding state preemption law.

"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 the firearms and ammunition on the grounds it violates Washington State's preemption statute that blocks cities from regulating the sale of firearms on their own," says NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Larry Keane, "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."

The NRA's Chris Cox didn't mince any words about the measure. "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." Cox also pointed out, "they tried the same thing 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 constitutional," he said.

For the Second Amendment Foundation's Alan Gottlieb, it's yet another round of litigation with Seattle. "We've been down this path before," Gottlieb says, "we sued them, and won, knocking out their attempt to ban guns in city park facilities."

So why does the city persist? Tough to answer, but Gottlieb has a thought on that as well. "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."

The sad part of the whole affair is that it's taxpayer dollars being used to wrap, re-wrap, and defend a measure that is based on the apparent belief on the behalf of Seattle's elected officials that state laws are fine- until you disagree with them. Then you just go ahead and write your own laws.