Washington state Democrats propose additional tax for ‘privilege of using ammunition’

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Washington state Democrats are proposing an additional tax on residents for “the privilege of using ammunition” in an effort to decrease gun violence. 

Fifteen state Democrats recently introduced House Bill 2238, citing the health and safety threat posed by gun violence throughout the state. The legislation was referred Tuesday to the state’s legislature’s committee on finance.

If passed, the bill would impose a use and sales tax on the retail sale of ammunition.

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.45-caliber ammunition

Ammunition for a .45-caliber firearm. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli/File)

“A use tax is levied on every person in this state for the privilege of using ammunition as a consumer at the rate of percent of the selling price,” the bill states.

The text of the bill describes ammunition as “projectiles with their fuses, propelling charges, or primers designed to be fired from firearms. ‘Ammunition’ includes any shotgun shell and any rifle, pistol, or revolver cartridge.”

The proposed tax would be in addition to the federal, state, and local sales and use tax imposed on sales of goods and services. However, it would not apply to sales to state, local, or tribal governments for the purposes of supplying law enforcement agencies, the bill notes. 

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Aerial view of Washington State Capitol in Olympia, Wash. (David Ryder/Getty Images/File)

The National Rifle Association said it plans to oppose the bill from becoming law. 

“This is a clear unconstitutional assault aimed at penalizing law-abiding citizens in Washington,” Aoibheann Cline, the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) Washington director, said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “The NRA stands strong and will fight this absurd legislation.”

State Rep. Jim Walsh, who serves as the chair of the Washington State Republican Party, said the “arrogance and sanctimony of anti-2A (Second Amendment) extremists will be their undoing, even in ‘blue’ states.”

“Washington HB 2238 is a poorly-conceived and sloppily-drafted piece of work,” he told Fox News Digital in a statement. “It’s also politically tone-deaf, as Washington residents from all points on the political spectrum and all corners of the state are currently rejecting state tax hikes.”

Walsh said the “real kicker” in the bill’s text is the reference to “the privilege of using ammunition.”

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Screenshot of HB 2238

A screenshot of House Bill 2238 in Washington state that proposes an addition tax on the retail sale of ammunition.  (Washington State Legislature)

“This amateurish rhetoric exposes any legislator who might support the bill to deserved ridicule,” he added. “Under both the federal and state constitutions, owning and using firearms are rights, not privileges. Article 1, Section 24, of the Washington state constitution reads: ‘The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired….’ That language, unlike HB 2238, is clear.”

The Democrats behind the legislation cited the threat posed by gun violence, which remains a persistent health and safety threat for people across our state, according to the proposed legislation. One person is killed by a firearm every 14 hours and nearly half of all suicides are from firearms, the bill states.

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Revenue from the proposed tax would be used to fund suicide prevention programs and programs to reduce firearm-related domestic violence. 

Fox News Digital has reached out to the Washington State Democratic Party. 



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