TACOMA, Wash. — A Tacoma gun shop owner is preparing to shut down his store next year after the city council passed a gun and ammunition tax on Tuesday.
Dan Davies, who co-owns Mary’s Pistols with his wife, Mary, said the ordinance will put him out of business when it goes into effect in July 2020.
“What the city council has done is taken my livelihood,” said Davies. “This is my business and I’m being run out of town by the Tacoma City Council.”
Tuesday night, despite an outcry from gun shop owners and manufacturers, council members unanimously passed an ordinance that would impose a $25 per-firearm tax at retail and a two to five-cent tax per round of ammunition sold.
The revenue from the taxes would fund public safety programs in Tacoma.
Davies said the tax will drive his customers out of town to buy guns and ammunition.
One customer, Marcus Mazique, said he came to Mary’s Pistols the day after the vote to buy a firearm before the price increases. He said once the tax goes into effect, he likely won’t be back.
“I’ll just go someplace where you don’t have to pay the $25,” he said. “You can just drive to Lakewood.”
But Tacoma City councilmember Robert Thoms said shop owners should not consider the tax set in stone.
“We’re not doing anything for seven months,” he said. “There are no taxes being levied. There are no programs that are changing.”
Thoms stressed that the changes would not take effect until July 2020 and in the meantime, the city would be working with law enforcement, gun retailers, and citizen groups exploring “the right mix” of gun violence prevention regulations.
“I will be advocating that we increase police presence,” he added. “I will be advocating that we use some of the techniques that police said work, which are gun locks and gun buybacks.”
Thoms said the version of the ordinance that passed includes a provision that allows the council to consider repealing the tax, depending on “any effect on the business community and local business and occupation tax revenue.”
When asked if he supported the $25 fee, Thoms demurred.
“At this point, I don’t know enough to say what’s the right number.”