So what do you do if you want to ban a Constitutionally protected right such as the right to bear arms? Well, if you are Seattle City Counsel you impose a tax on people who exercise those rights. $25 per firearm and $0.05 per bullet, ostensibly to pay for the costs of “gun violence” (as if guns are sentient objects capable of inflicting harm all by themselves, whereas knives, bats and cars are not). Setting aside for a moment the unintentional, but inevitable fact that disarming good people or making it more expensive for them to be armed will only benefit criminals who intend to do harm, and will create even more “gun violence,” it is clear that the intended effect of this act is to drive out gun and ammunition sellers. That is what laws like this have been used for in the past in other locations across the country. People will choose to go outside the city limits to purchase their firearms and ammunition or not buy them at all. Not everyone would have to make those choices for the council to get what they want, just enough to make it unprofitable to continue operating a gun store in the city.
Here the city council shows that they understand incentives and how to use them. If you want to eliminate something you raise the cost of it and punish those who consume that good or service. Their quotes even indicate they understand that this tax will not bring in the amounts they have assigned to it which shows they know the market will be punished and there will be fewer or no transactions to tax. I am sure they also know they will pay out huge legal fees and lose in the court when this law is challenged. The taxpayers are effectively buying a headline for a few politicians to crow about.
On the other hand, Seattle also just raised its minimum wage to $15/hr. If we carry over the same logic they used with their “gun violence” tax we can only conclude that they wish to drive jobs out of the city and by extension drive out those whose skills are worth less than $15/hr. Either we must believe that or else believe that Seattle is a magical place where incentives only apply where, and as, the local city council wishes and the laws of supply and demand do not function as they do everywhere else in the known universe. Apparently there is some sort of event horizon which surrounds the city and the laws of economics break down at its border to become a vector quantity which only points in whichever direction the City Council desires.
Ironically, of the two, I would expect the minimum wage hike will have more effect on crime and violence in the city than the gun tax. Fewer people will be able to support themselves. Opportunities will be much more limited. Labor will move to the black market with fewer or no job protections. And some people will just move to places that are more hospitable to poor people, young people, minorities and those just starting out — the cohorts with job skills worth less than $15/hr. I am not sure whether the effect on violent crime will be a net positive or negative but I imagine it will be fairly significant.
Update: No sooner did I write this than the NRA and several other groups announced their lawsuit against Seattle. Apparently they have won similar suits there before and there is even a state law which prevents Seattle from doing exactly what they are trying to do. But hey, there is already ample evidence the morons on the city council believe no law applies unless they say it does… economic or otherwise.