Cook County’s Proposed ‘Violence Tax’ Calls For $25 On Each Gun Purchase, Nickel-Per-Bullet On Ammo Purchases

Cook County (Illinois) Board President Toni Preckwinkle is scheduled to present her budget proposal for 2013 today, and the word is out she’s pushing that “violence tax” on law-abiding residents which I talked about the other day.

In short, the newswires are saying President Preckwinkle wants a $25 tax on every firearm purchase and a nickel-per-bullet tax on ammunition purchases that take place within the county.

This comes among a whole slew of proposed new and higher taxes and fees in hopes of closing a projected budget gap of $115 million in FY 2013.

Preckwinkle is attempting to justify the “violence tax” by pointing out costs incurred by Cook County’s criminal justice and public health systems as a result of the violence taking place in Chicago and elsewhere in the nation’s second-largest county.

Taxing law-abiding gun owners in Cook County for the actions of criminals.

Makes a whole lot of sense.

Ms. Preckwinkle and her entourage are citing a report from last summer and argue that 29 percent of the guns used in Chicago crimes were purchased legally in the suburbs of Cook County. Dan Hinkel wrote on the Chicago Tribune website on August 27:

A study of guns seized by Chicago police shows that suburban gun shops are a main source of guns used in crimes in the city.

The research shows that some 29 percent of the guns recovered on Chicago’s streets between 2008 and the end of March were bought in the Cook County suburbs.

I wonder how many of the “29 percent” were originally purchased by law-abiding citizens, but were subsequently stolen in robberies? Lots of those taking place in the Chicagoland area these days.

As further justification for this additional tax on guns and ammo, President Preckwinkle is referencing a remark made by comedian Chris Rock. Hal Dardick wrote on the Chicago Tribune website earlier today:

“I make no apology for this,” she added, before making a reference to a popular comedian. “As Chris Rock would say, if it costs a million dollars to society for every gunshot wound, we ought to charge a tax of a million dollars per bullet.”

Chris Rock? Last I heard, the man was a comedian, not a public policy guru.

And nowhere else does such a joke show its short-sightedness than in this particular situation, where many Cook County residents can (and probably) will just purchase their firearms and ammunition outside of the county should the tax become reality.

Good luck collecting that “tax of a million dollars per bullet.”

And consider this. According to an Associated Press piece earlier today:

Preckwinkle declined to speak with The Associated Press ahead of the announcement Thursday, but her spokeswoman Kristen Mack confirmed the details of the plan.

Mack said the office has found no other jurisdiction in the nation that has imposed a tax on bullets, even though several have considered it.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

“No other jurisdiction in the nation that has imposed a tax on bullets.”

Gee, why do you think that is?

Because in addition to what I pointed out above, it eventually dawned on those jurisdictions that a tax on ammunition and/or firearms would result in businesses packing up and leaving to adjacent/other jurisdictions and kill-off much needed revenue.

Not rocket science here.

From Dardick’s piece:

Unlike the cigarette tax, the levies on gambling machines and guns and ammo would raise a relatively small sum: $1.3 million for the gambling tax and $1 million for the guns ‘n ammo tax, according to county projections.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

“1 million for the guns ‘n ammo tax.”

Now that I’d like to see. I wouldn’t be surprised if the 40 or so gun shops and other retailers potentially affected by this tax aren’t already looking at what would need to be done to close up shop in Cook County and move elsewhere.

And about that $1 million. I’d be shocked if the county gets even $1,000 after a couple of years of having this tax in place.

How about sporting goods retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods? The one by me seems to do brisk business in firearm and ammunition sales. In fact, on the occasions I’ve been at their store, it seems to be the only department that’s not dead these days.

Slap that “violence tax” on them, and I’m guessing big retailers like Dick’s (and Cabela’s out in the Cook County portion of Hoffman Estates) could see their bottom-line hit big time.

I wonder where they are in all this?

It bears repeating here.

It eventually dawned on those jurisdictions that a tax on ammunition and/or firearms would result in businesses packing up and leaving to adjacent/other jurisdictions and kill-off much needed revenue.

Revenue that Cook County can ill-afford to lose these days.

Then there’s the increasing chatter about a lawsuit.

Lisa Donovan wrote on the Chicago Sun-Times website this morning:

While most commissioners who talked to the Sun-Times declined to weigh in on the budget because they wanted more details, one was displeased with the tax on guns and ammunition sold in the city and suburbs.

“I think it’s unnecessary,” the commissioner said. “It’s only going to bring in something like $1 million next year, and we’ll easily spend that in legal fees and trying to collect the money,” the commissioner said, explaining that there is some concern the county will be sued over the tax and collecting it could be a costly venture.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Some concern the county will be sued? Try most likely.

And the Cook County Board President’s take on a potential lawsuit? From that AP piece:

Even Preckwinkle seemed resigned to a legal challenge in her comments to the newspaper board.

“You can’t make decisions based on the basis of whether or not somebody’s going to sue you or then you’ll never do anything,” she said.

The thing is, if the “violence tax” stays in the budget, “whether” will most likely be the case here, and Cook County is clearly not in a financial position these days to fight such a lawsuit.

In the end, President Preckwinkle and Cook County commissioners hopefully use common sense here. Because the word is out that the proposed “violence tax” would generate such a low amount of revenue for Cook County, residents already recognize it’s primarily a ploy to try and convince us that something is being done to stem the violence that plagues Chicago and its suburbs. Still others will figure out the proposed tax is also an attempt by Cook County politicians to push more gun “control” on its residents. As such, it will hardly be a surprise when Cook County is slapped with a lawsuit in defense of the Second Amendment. Throw in the 40-plus businesses that will probably take their much-needed revenue elsewhere (other nearby counties have got to be celebrating their potential good fortune right now), and it becomes conceivable that the proposed tax on guns and ammo might even end up costing Cook County money when all is said and done.


Hinkel, Dan. “Study: Suburbs are major source of guns used in Chicago crimes.” Chicago Tribune. 27 Aug. 2012. (,0,6843888.story). 18 Oct. 2012.

Dardick, Hal. “Preckwinkle wants $1-a-pack cigarette tax hike.” Chicago Tribune. 18 Oct. 2012. (,0,6843888.story). 18 Oct. 2012.

“County official proposes bullet tax to curb Chicago crime.” Associated Press. 18 Oct. 2012. ( 18 Oct. 2012.

Donovan, Lisa. “Cigarettes, golf all could cost more under Cook County tax plan.” Chicago Sun-Times. 18 Oct. 2012. ( 18 Oct. 2012.

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