Should law-abiding gun owners in Cook County, Ill, carry the financial burden for the out-of-control violence in Chicago and the county’s $115 million budget shortfall?
Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle believes so, hence, her plan to introduce the “violence tax” on guns and ammunition.
While Prekwinkle failed to explicate how much of an excise tax she would recommend, she was adamant about pursuing the measure.
“Gun violence is a real problem for us. It’s a problem for us in our criminal justice system and it’s a problem for us in our health care system, and I make no apologies for the proposal,” she said during a brief press conference on Tuesday.
Her chief of staff, Kurt Summers, explained the thinking behind the ominously named “violence tax.”
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“If we were to pursue a tax on something like guns and ammo, clearly that wouldn’t be popular with the [gun lobby] out there, and it may not generate $50 million, but … it is consistent with our commitment to pursuing violence reduction in the city and in the county,” Summers said on Monday.
In elaborating, Summers said that the goal is to reduce the number of guns in circulation [by making them more expensive]. He cited a report that found one-third of the guns recovered by Chicago police were purchased in suburban gun shops.
He also mentioned that he average cost to treat a gunshot victim, without insurance, is approximately $52,000. According to statistics, roughly 70 percent of victims are uninsured.
With respect to the criminal justice system, Summers explained the expenses that come with housing inmates.
“It impacts law enforcement, both at the city and the county [levels]. It impacts the courtrooms, the public defender and state’s attorney that are in there, the judges that are in there, the clerk of the court that has to sit there, the sheriff’s deputies that are in that courtroom and it impacts the jail — the folks [inmates] that are sitting there at $143 a day,” he said.
So, the short of it, law-abiding gun owners should be punished for the actions of criminals.
“This is just another example of the blame game — Chicago and Cook County has a gun violence problem, Chicago’s got a high high school drop-out rate, they’ve got a drug problem, they’ve got a gang problem, but they want to make legal gun owners, guys like me, the scapegoat,” Todd Vandermyde a National Rifle Association lobbyist who works in Springfield, told the Chicago Sun Times.
Vandermyde expounded on how the tax would disproportionally affect the poor and those citizens who live in high-crime areas.
“It is another way to enact a Jim Crow law and keep people from exercising their constitutional right, he said (for a spirited discussion on this particular topic, click here).
“All you’re doing is jacking up the price of guns and ammunition — for someone who can least afford it,” he said. “The problem with something like this is that you’re hurting people who don’t have the ability to get out of Cook County. So if you have someone in Englewood, they have to venture out to DuPage County, to Will County? I don’t think so.”
Currently, there are two bills in the Illinois state Legislature that would put an excise tax on ammunition. The bills (HB5167 and HB1274) are sitting idly before the House Rules Committee.
While the fate of these bills is uncertain, Preckwinkle hopes that her “Violence Tax” proposal, which she plans to unveil in full on Oct 18, will gain serious traction amongst Cook County residents.
What do you think of the “violence tax”?
(Guns.com would like to thank Wayne Hardy for bringing this story to our attention – thanks Wayne!)