A $25 per-gun tax on firearms sold in Seattle has survived a first challenge by the National Rifle Association and allies including the Second Amendment Foundation. The tax takes effect Jan. 1, but the King County Superior Court ruling by Judge Palmer Robinson was only a first step in a likely long fight.
The tax also applies to ammunition at a rate of 2 or 5 cents per round. Seattle City Council President Tim Burgess sponsored the legislation, passed unanimously in August. It proposes to use the taxes to pay for what Burgess called gun safety research and violence prevention programs.
Groups like the NRA have managed to stifle gun legislation at the federal level — even after mass shootings such as the slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012.
But in approving a universal background checks initiative in 2014, Washington voters opened a new political front for those wanting to discourage or impose stricter limits on firearms. Initiative 594 extended the background check requirement to include gun shows and any other firearm transfers. I-594 also faces a legal challenge.
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Both court cases bear watching as a sign of what further steps gun-control advocates might have at their disposal.