BELLEVUE, WA – The nation’s three leading firearms organizations joined forces today to sue the City of Seattle over adoption of a retail sales tax on guns and ammunition in what they allege is a clear violation of Washington State’s 33-year-old state preemption law that does not allow cities, counties or political subdivisions to enact laws relating to firearms not authorized by state law.
The Second Amendment Foundation, National Rifle Association and National Shooting Sports Foundation, joined by two of the city’s firearms retailers – Outdoor Emporium and Precise Shooter LLC – and two private citizens, filed their lawsuit in King County Superior Court. Named as defendants are Mayor Ed Murray, the city’s Department of Finance and Administrative Services, and that department’s director, Glen Lee.
“We’ve been down this path before with Seattle when we sued them and won, knocking out their attempt to ban guns in city park facilities,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb. “The city does not seem to understand that no matter how they wrap this package, it’s still a gun control law and it violates Washington’s long-standing preemption statute.”
“Once again, anti-gun activists in Seattle have chosen to violate the Washington State Constitution and trample upon the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” said Chris Cox, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “They tried to enact similar regulations back in 2009 and lost. It’s a shame to see such a waste of public resources on issues the courts have already ruled to be unconstitutional.”
“NSSF has no alternative but to be an active party in this lawsuit against the City of Seattle’s attempt to interfere in the lawful commerce in firearms and ammunition on the grounds that it violates Washington State’s preemption statute that blocks cities from regulating the sale of firearms on their own.” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “The Seattle ordinance is nothing but a ‘poll tax’ on the Second Amendment and an effort to drive Seattle’s firearms retailers out of business.”
This legal action is an historic first, marking the first time that SAF, NRA and NSSF have collaborated on a lawsuit. SAF and NRA have joined forces previously in lawsuits against New Orleans, San Francisco and Seattle, the latter overturning an attempt by then-Mayor Greg Nickels and his successor, Mike McGinn, to prohibit legally-carried firearms in city park facilities. However, this is the first time NSSF has been on board.
“No municipality can be permitted to set itself apart as a city-state, in defiance of existing law, especially for the purpose of financially penalizing law-abiding gun owners for problems they did not create and crimes they didn’t commit,” he added. “Just as we did in 2009, we cautioned the city against adopting this tax and our concerns were ignored for the sake of political grandstanding. The law is very clear. Cities in Washington cannot set up their own gun laws, and we expect the courts to agree.”
You can read the full complaint here.