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The Seattle gun verdict: Eroding the law

| Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
AP photo
AP photo

The importance of electing judges who uphold and defend the law is underscored by the state of Washington's Supreme Court, which in an 8-1 ruling trampled state law to embrace Seattle's purely partisan “gun violence tax.”

The 2015 tax law allows Seattle to impose levies of $25 per firearm plus 2-5 cents per round of ammunition, both of which pose disincentives to — if not the tacit regulation of — gun purchases in the city.

And it's hardly surprising that the tax fell far short of its first-year revenue projection. Commerce suffered because the new taxes drove gun customers from the city, thereby directly conflicting with a 1983 state law.

Under that Washington law, guns fall under the purview of the state, not its cities: “The state … fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulations within the boundaries of the state, including the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge and transportation of firearms or any element relating to firearms or parts thereof, including ammunition.”

Apparently that wasn't clear enough for the state's high-court justices except for one. In her dissent, Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud wrote that the pre-existing law's “plain language demonstrates clear legislative intent to preempt local ‘laws and ordinances' that ‘relate to firearms' as broadly as possible.”

Seattle's onerous gun tax clearly conflicts with Washington state's gun law. It also erodes citizens' Second Amendment rights.

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