BELLEVUE, WA – A King County Superior Court judge has ruled in favor of a firearms magazine editor and the Second Amendment Foundation in a case challenging the City of Seattle’s refusal to disclose “gun violence tax” revenues under the Public Records Act (PRA).
SAF filed the lawsuit in September with Dave Workman, senior editor of TheGunMag.com. SAF owns the publication. At issue was the city’s refusal to comply with Workman’s PRA request for revenue collected by the city under its “gun violence tax,” passed by the city council in the summer of 2015.
“We are delighted with the outcome of this case,” said SAF Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb, who is also publisher of TheGunMag.com. “It was silly for Seattle to withhold this information, but we’re pretty certain why the city did it. The council was told that this tax could generate between $300,000 and a half-million dollars, but now it appears the city has collected just over $100,000, which is an embarrassing shortfall.
“As a result,” he added, “the city has essentially lost money on this scheme because now they have to pay our attorney fees, plus a small penalty. On top of that, the city has lost tax revenue because one major gun dealer has moved out of the city and another has reported considerable sales losses. That is tax money the city will never realize.”
Workman said he is both personally and professionally pleased with the outcome.
“For me, this was always a First Amendment issue,” he said. “The city adopted a controversial tax for questionable reasons, and the public has a right to know how much the city collected.”
In her bench ruling, King County Superior Court Judge Lori K. Smith ruled that the city had not acted out of bad faith, so she awarded plaintiffs a nominal penalty of $377, amounting to one dollar a day since the lawsuit was filed last year.
SAF was represented by attorneys Steven Fogg and David Edwards with Corr Cronin Michelson Baumgardner Fogg & Moore LLP of Seattle.