City council president teases proposal to tax gun sales

Spokane’s city council president is teasing a proposal that would tax the sale of all firearms and ammunition sold in Spokane.

Ben Stuckart posted teased his proposal on Facebook Thursday. The post read: ” have the ordinance ready to increases taxes on gun purchases in the city. We could put the money towards mental health services. If not now, when?” The post sparked a lot of debate on Stuckart’s page.

The so-called “Gun Violence Prevention Ordinance” would put $20 tax on every firearm sold in Spokane. It would also add $0.01 to every round of ammunition that measures .22-caliber or less. Larger rounds of ammunition would be taxed $0.03.

The tax would not apply to people who sell only one firearm. It also would not apply to licensed dealers who are negotiating a gun sale between two unlicensed parties.

Under the proposal, Stuckart says the money would go toward mental health services and programs that prevent gun accessibility to children and those suffering from mental illness; prevent gun violence; address in part the public health costs associated with gun violence in Spokane; and promote recreational gun safety.

But, local gun supporters say the tax unfairly targets legal gun owners.

“They’re entitled to being able to buy legally, without being demonized by additional taxes and regulation that don’t apply to other industries,” said Robin Ball of Sharp Shooter Shooting Range and Gun Shop.

A representative for Stuckart says the council president started the proposal in 2016, but it was shelved because Stuckart didn’t think he could get council support.

Local gun stores say if this ordinance were to pass, it would just drive business out of Spokane, rather than raise money for mental health issues. They say there’s a good chance some gun shops would go out of business.

“If they wanted to throw a tax on something that impacted all of society to share that burden, then that’d be a conversation we oughtta have,” Ball said.

Stuckart says there is no timeline for when this ordinance will be brought forward to the council for discussion.