CHICAGO, IL – With some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country, Chicago continues to have one of the highest rates of gun violence as well. And Cook Country bureaucrats’ answer? Impose a “violence tax” on the sale of all guns and ammunition in the county.
Residents of Chicago already have to register each weapon they own and pay a $100 fee every three years to maintain their registration privileges. But Kate Summers, Preckwinkle’s chief of staff believes an additional tax on guns will prove Chicago’s commitment to reduce violence.
Summers said, “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.”
The Chicago Times was quick to offer support for such a tax:
Such a tax alone wouldn’t close a $115 million budget gap in 2013, but it could at least funnel money into the county’s $3 billion operation — where roughly two-thirds of the budget pays for both the county’s public health clinics and two hospitals along with the criminal justice system that includes the courts and jail.
The idea is to curb the number of guns in circulation, he said, citing a report issued last summer showing that nearly one-third of the guns recovered on Chicago’s streets were purchased in suburban gun shops. Other statistics are more dire: Murders in Chicago are up 25 percent this year, according to recent police statistics, and the county jail is filling up — with 9,000-plus inmates, nearing the 10,155 capacity.
Along with the tragic human toll, gun violence takes a toll on government coffers.
Todd Vandermyde, a National Rifle Association lobbyist, said “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.”
Vandermyde says the proposed tax is nothing more than an unfair tax on a constitutional right. “It is another way to enact a Jim Crow law and keep people from exercising their constitutional right,” he said. “All you’re doing is jacking up the price of guns and ammunition — for someone who can least afford it,” he continued. “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.”
Chicago’s gun laws have only succeeded in taking guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens, leaving them defenseless against those who could care less about the laws. At the heart of this issue is raising money to help cover the county’s $100 million deficit. The real issue has nothing to do with stopping violence or keeping guns out of criminals’ hands and everything to do revenue anyway Cook County can find it.