U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- Two New York State senators who introduced legislation to impose a special excise tax on ammunition sold in the Empire State to finance “gun violence research”—and presumably help lead to a reduction in so-called “gun violence”—apparently haven’t looked to the West to see how the same effort has failed miserably.
Senate Bill S8415 was introduced Feb. 28 by State Senators Andrew Gounardes (D-22nd District) and Alessandra Biaggi (D, WF 34th District.) If passed, the legislation would place a tax of 2 cents on every rimfire cartridge and 5 cents on every centerfire cartridge sold in the state. The fees are identical to a “gun violence tax” hastily adopted in July 2015 by the Seattle, Wash. City Council, with then-Councilman Tim Burgess forecasting annual revenues of between $300,000 and $500,000, but a check of data provided by the City of Seattle shows that the true tax returns have never come close.
Ever since the gun and ammo tax was adopted, Seattle’s homicides have steadily risen.
According to Seattle Police data, in 2016, the first full year of the tax, which also included a $25 fee for the sale of any firearm, the city collected $103,766 and logged 18 homicides. In 2017, Seattle’s tax raked in $93,220 while police reported 28 murders. The following year (2018) saw the city’s gun and ammunition tax pull in $77,518 while police investigated 32 slayings. In 2019, according to the data, Seattle’s tax scheme brought in $85,352 and homicides declined to 28, but in 2020, Seattle collected a relatively whopping $184,836 and logged an alarming 52 homicides.
Last year, the gun/ammo tax revenue slid back to $165,416 and Seattle Police reported 42 murders.
The situation of escalating violence in Seattle and surrounding King County has gotten so bad that The Hill—the respected news journal covering Washington, D.C. politics—recently devoted coverage to the story from “the other Washington.”
And Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, which opposed the Seattle gun and ammo tax, noted earlier this year, “We warned the public these gun control schemes were wishful thinking at best. The data provides all the evidence necessary to say anti-gun-rights initiatives and legislation have amounted to snake oil, giving the public a false sense of security while their rights are being steadily eroded.”
CCRKBA’s sister organization, the Second Amendment Foundation, joined with the National Shooting Sports Foundation and National Rifle Association to challenge the gun/ammo tax on the grounds it was a gun control scheme disguised as a tax, and thus violated the state’s 39-year-old preemption law. The liberal state Supreme Court found in favor of the city—justifying criticisms that it is really the “Seattle Supreme Court”—and has allowed the tax to stand.
Jump back to Albany, N.Y.
Sen. Gounardes’ Linkedin profile describes him as an “Attorney with experience in public administration, government and public affairs, political campaigns, public policy, public employee retirement systems, and nonprofit law.”
“If we haven’t met professionally or personally,” the senator’s message reads, “and you would like to connect, please send me a message introducing yourself.”
As Empire State gun owners learn of this ammunition tax proposal, chances are the senator will get lots of messages from people hoping to “connect.”
Here’s the partial (important) text of S8415:
- 460. IMPOSITION OF TAX. 1. THERE IS HEREBY LEVIED AND IMPOSED AN EXCISE TAX ON THE RETAIL SALE OF AMMUNITION AT THE FOLLOWING RATES:
(A) AMMUNITION THAT CONTAINS A SINGLE PROJECTILE THAT MEASURES .22 CALIBER OR LESS SOLD AT RETAIL SHALL BE TAXED AT A RATE OF TWO CENTS PER PROJECTILE.
(B) ALL OTHER AMMUNITION OTHER THAN THAT SPECIFIED IN PARAGRAPH (A) OF THIS SUBDIVISION AND SOLD AT RETAIL SHALL BE TAXED AT A RATE OF FIVE CENTS PER PROJECTILE.
- THE TAX RATES SET FORTH IN THIS SECTION SHALL BE REVIEWED ANNUALLY AND ADJUSTED PERIODICALLY BY THE COMMISSIONER AS NEEDED TO MAINTAIN A CONSISTENT EFFECT RELATIVE TO INFLATION.
- 461. DEPOSIT AND DISPOSITION OF REVENUE. ALL TAXES, INTEREST AND PENALTIES COLLECTED OR RECEIVED BY THE COMMISSIONER UNDER THIS ARTICLE SHALL BE DEPOSITED AND DISPOSED OF PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY-ONE-A OF THIS CHAPTER, PROVIDED THAT AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO ONE HUNDRED PERCENT COLLECTED UNDERTHIS ARTICLE LESS ANY AMOUNT DETERMINED BY THE COMMISSIONER TO BE RESERVED BY THE COMPTROLLER FOR REFUNDS OR REIMBURSEMENTS SHALL BE PAID BY THE COMPTROLLER TO THE CREDIT OF THE GUN VIOLENCE RESEARCH FUND CREATED IN SECTION EIGHTY-SIX OF THE STATE FINANCE LAW.
The bullet tax notion has its roots in Cook County, Ill., which encompasses Chicago. One look at the soaring body count in that jurisdiction underscores what a boondoggle such a tax can be. It hasn’t reduced the body count by a single corpse.
The program was essentially a cash cow, and last Oct. 21, the Illinois State Supreme Court ruled the tax to be unconstitutional “because they (Cook County) violated the Uniformity Clause of the Illinois Constitution,” according to a detailed analysis by Grant Thornton LLP.
“Two weeks after the Court’s decision invalidating the firearm and ammunition taxes,” the analysis explains, “Cook County approved an amended ordinance specifying that revenue from both taxes would be directed to a special purpose equity fund with the purpose of funding gun violence prevention programs in addition to operations and programs aimed at reducing gun violence.”
This strategy might best be explained by a note appearing on the King County Prosecutor’s website out in the Evergreen State. The office, headed by Republican-turned-Democrat Dan Satterberg, adopted the “public health” approach to shootings, saying it “addresses the questions of who is being shot; why are they being shot; and how can we prevent future shootings.”
This is what the New York proposal appears to be all about, along with the Cook County project and Seattle tax, the main difference being that New York’s proposal is statewide. In Seattle and Cook County, people just go outside of those jurisdictions to buy their guns and ammunition, and in Seattle, one of the city’s bigger gun retailers moved his store to a different county, taking all the revenue from B&O and property taxes with him. The city lost all around, unless the goal all along was to push gun stores out of Seattle.
New York’s S8415 has been sent to the state Senate’s Budget and Review Committee.
About Dave Workman
NY ‘Bullet Tax’ Proponents Should Study Seattle’s Record of Failure is written by Dave Workman for www.ammoland.com