A hearing is scheduled this Friday in King County Superior Court on a lawsuit filed by the Second Amendment Foundation and its monthly publication, TheGunMag.com (TGM) against the City of Seattle over what SAF and the magazine considers a violation of Washington State’s Public Records Act.
The lawsuit was filed last year when the city repeatedly declined to disclose its revenues from a controversial “gun violence tax” that was adopted by the city council in 2015. At the time, backers of the gun tax predicted that it would raise between $300,000 and $500,000 annually, with the money to be used for “gun violence” education and prevention efforts.
But after the city adopted the tax, which charges $25 on the sale of each firearm and five cents for each centerfire cartridge or two cents for each rimfire cartridge, one of the more active gun shops in the city moved its business operations out of town. That left only two main gun shops, The Outdoor Emporium and Big 5.
The city contends that disclosing its tax revenues will reveal how much each company has paid, and that this would violate their privacy.
TGM and SAF have maintained that this is a First Amendment issue, and that the public has a right to know whether the city’s revenue forecast was accurate or pie-in-the-sky.
SAF is involved in a separate lawsuit against the city that directly challenges the gun tax. Joining SAF in that action are the National Rifle Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation and two of the gun shops, including Outdoor Emporium and Precise Shooter, the latter which moved its operations to a community north of Seattle.
The tax was championed by former Council President Tim Burgess, and quickly signed by anti-gun Mayor Ed Murray. Plaintiffs in the initial challenged to the gun tax have argued that it is in fact a gun control measure disguised as a business tax. The city prevailed at the trial level, but plaintiffs appealed their case to the state court of appeals.
Seattle has become known as a hotbed of anti-gun political activity. Two gun prohibition lobbying groups, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility and Washington Ceasefire, are headquartered in the city.