Washington Supreme Court upholds Seattle gun tax

Washington Supreme Court upholds Seattle gun tax

[JURIST] The Washington Supreme Court [official website] upheld Seattle’s tax [ordinance, PDF] on guns and ammunition sales on Thursday. The two individual gun owners and organizations bringing the suit argued [opinion, PDF] that the tax was actually a state regulation on guns, which is prohibited by a Washington state law [official website]. The six-justice majority [materials] affirmed the lower court’s decision in favor of the city. The majority opinion said, “While courts should be dubious of regulations masquerading as taxes (and vice versa), in this case Watson [the plaintiff] offers no convincing evidence that the Ordinance has a regulatory purpose or intent.” The court also cited the fact that the revenue from the sale of guns was used for public services as evidence that the ordinance was a tax. The dissenting justice argued that since Seattle passed an ordinance that relates to firearms, it is invalid, because the state law prohibits the city from doing exactly that.

Gun control remains a controversial domestic issue. In July a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction [JURIST report] against California’s controversial gun ban. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed legislation [JURIST report] in April expanding gun rights in the state. South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard in March vetoed a a pair of bills [JURIST report] that would have loosened the state’s regulations on concealed carry laws. The US House of Representatives approved [JURIST report] a bill in March making it easier for certain veterans to obtain firearms.