Seattle Council Education and Governance Committee report
This is the report of the second meeting of the Education and Governance Committee on the gun tax proposal.
You can read the agenda and eventually watch the video here: https://seattle.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=418792&GUID=B5B80B6A-F6A9-4E19-BA42-872FD5C4879F&Options=&Search=.
This meeting was sparsely attended. Of the public, there were 2 gun owners who spoke against the law - thank you, this was two amazing, really heart felt testimonies, -
an NSSF representative, an anti-domestic-violence person, and my wife and I.
I wish there was more turnout from gun owners. This apathy really hurts us - there's a general feeling that "we can't do anything", yet there are at least 20% of
gun owners, and the elections have 20% participation rates. If gun owners were to turn out, they could easily change the composition of Seattle City Council.
Anyway, the most interesting party was the testimony of the City's financial director, Glenn Lee. As you know, the numbers that he presented are completely
bonkers - for Seattle to reach $300,000-$500,000 revenue from this tax, our residents would have to buy firearms at 5 times the rate of Cook County residents.
The fact that it is impossible to even derive the range from the methodology they used should of course be obvious to everyone.
I am extremely sure that Gene Lee DID take a basic stats class, and KNOWS full well that the numbers are total bullshit, yet he insisted that this is the best estimate
- given the limited information they have.
Of course, he kept repeating how difficult it is to come up with the numbers, given that limited amount of information.
And of course, it's all a bold-faced lie.
(A) Estimating a range from an average, without knowing the distribution, is mathematically impossible. They only had the average. So they couldn't estimate
ANYTHING given the "data" they had.
(B) It is also not true that what they used was the best information available. I published my numbers, and I am certain that if they went to the other
companies, they would let them see theirs - under NDA, if necessary. Or they could simply extrapolate my numbers. Either way it would be orders of magnitude
more accurate than the total bullshit they pulled out of their butt.
The obvious reason for using the fantasy instead of the real numbers is that - well, the real numbers would have told a very different story than what they
wanted to hear.
Honestly, I was surprised - after I called bullshit on all this during the first meeting, I expected them to at least try and put some lipstick on this pig.
Nope. They really aren't even trying.
So to me the question is - what's scarier, guns or city government that lies to its citizens about the data? Anyway, I will enjoy deposing Gene Lee in front
of the judge and having him re-explain the numbers, and let the court comment on his professional integrity.
Towards the end of Lee's testimony they brought up the case of parking spots - apparently, they underestimated THAT tax revenue. I wonder if this might have anything
to do with the fact that it's much easier to relocate a gun store than a parking lot?
Anyway, it was getting curiouser and curiouser!
They switched to discussing the changes to the proposal. The first material one was the definition of the firearm. Now, the firearm does have a legal definition,
under 26 USCA § 861 (a). Of course, the lawyers who reviewed this insane BS "pro bono" and deemed it kosher should in theory know what it is - yet the council
spent about 5 minutes questioning the definition.
After that they went on and discussed the "22 caliber" ammunition. Of course the way they defined it in the law, 22LR and 223 Remington - both 22 caliber - would now
have $0.02 tax per round, not $0.05. For the 22LR, this means only 40% tax rather than 100%. This was because, you know, this is used by sports shooters, so they
felt it was appropriate to give them a break.
At this point the gun people in the room were going - "Holy fuck, this is unbelievable!"
After making a short work of Seattle's gun stores (voice "aye" - that's all it takes to close a whole industry segment in this city, apparently), they proceeded
to discuss the second part of this proposal, where city residents would be liable for reporting lost guns. A question was asked about how gun owners would know
about this, and Burgess proposed that it would be through enlisting the gun stores to help. You know, the ones they closed just 15 minutes ago.
I think I am now beginning to understand the root cause of the Big Bertha debacle.