Today’s Seattle Times carries an update of sorts on the city’s controversial gun violence tax, against which plaintiffs in a lawsuit to overturn the tax just filed an appeal brief with the state Court of Appeals, and the story quotes one retailer who squarely nails common sense.
Mike Coombs, owner of the Outdoor Emporium, one of two retail plaintiffs in the case against the tax puts it bluntly: “If they want to help with safety they should help me pay for safety classes.” But, according to critics of the tax, especially the plaintiffs, that’s not what the city is after. Seattle isn’t interested in the common sense approach, they assert. Seattle wants to drive gun stores out of business or at least out of the city.
As if that’s going to somehow curb gun-related violence. Ask Chicago, which is in Cook County, where a nearly identical gun tax has been in effect since 2012. The Windy City body count is over 150 so far. Not all of those victims were shot, of course, same as not all the victims of Seattle’s relatively tiny number of homicides so far.
But Seattle has traditionally enjoyed a much smaller murder rate than other cities of its size. That’s not to downplay the importance of each crime, but statistically, Seattle is a comparatively safe place. Chicago is a much larger city, but gun control efforts and anti-gun politics are strikingly similar.
“If they want to help with safety they should help me pay for safety classes.”-Mike Coombs, Outdoor Emporium owner quoted by Seattle Times
The 49-page court brief was filed last week by attorneys Steven Fogg and David Edwards, representing the plaintiffs including the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation, National Rifle Association and National Shooting Sports Foundation. In addition to Outdoor Emporium, another gun dealer, Sergey Solyanik, owner of Precise Shooter, and two individuals are also plaintiffs.
Contrary to the Times’ depiction of the NRA being in the lead, all three gun rights groups are equal partners in the case, and that’s historic. It is the first time that SAF, NRA and NSSF have been co-plaintiffs in a single case. NRA and SAF have teamed up before, notably to beat Seattle five years ago when it tried to ban firearms in city park facilities. They also joined forces to sue New Orleans in 2005 for its unconstitutional post-Katrina gun confiscation, and the City of San Francisco, over its gun ban attempt a couple of years ago.
Coombs’ logic about preventing firearms misuse is just one facet of gun safety from the genuine experts. SAF and NRA have also been deeply involved in another effort to curb firearms-related deaths, namely suicides. Their involvement was detailed in a well-done piece appearing in the Washington Post last Friday under the byline of Jennifer Stuber, an associate professor at the University of Washington, whose husband “ended his struggle with anxiety and depression with a single bullet.”
Stuber turned her personal tragedy into a triumph. She reached out to NRA and SAF, and met with them. They talked about suicide prevention for months. From those talks came recently-passed legislation aimed at suicide prevention and education that got nearly unanimous support in the Legislature this year while gun control legislation got no traction.
Still, the anti-gun Alliance for Gun Responsibility, which pushed through Initiative 594, sent an e-mail blast over the weekend that brazenly called the “Suicide Awareness and Prevention Education for Safer Homes Act,” sponsored by State Rep. Tina Orwall a “gun safety” bill. The e-mail also stated, “This just goes to show what we can accomplish — here in Washington and across the country — when we come together around common-sense proposals to reduce the gun violence that plagues our communities.” Odd, isn’t it that SAF and NRA are specifically mentioned in the legislation, but AGR is not?
Seattle’s gun tax has already driven Precise Shooter out of the city. Solyanik opened a store in Lynnwood, where he is not encumbered by the tax, which is actually described as a “regulatory fee” in the appeals brief.
The Times story refers to an April 2015 study that “found that gunshot victims who survive an initial gunshot wound are 21 times more likely to get shot again and five times more likely to die than those wounded by a weapon other than a gun or who were hurt in other kinds of accidents.” If people keep getting shot, maybe they’re involved in some activity they shouldn’t be. Perhaps that’s what research should determine, but honest gun owners and retailers should not be paying for that.
There is no set timeline on when the Court of Appeals may hand down an opinion on the gun tax case. In the meantime, it will be instructive for people to keep track of gun-related homicides and criminal shootings in the city, as a gauge of how well that tax might be working.
Got an opinion about this column? Share your views in the “Comments” section below.