Chicago's controversial new gun proposal
Will other cities adapt some version of a tax on bullets and firearms? Voters should be leery of simple solutions to complex problems.
Officials in Cook County, Ill., which includes Chicago, have proposed a tax of 5 cents per bullet and $25 on each firearm sold to defray the medical costs of victims of gun violence, which average $52,000. Taxpayers wound up footing the medical bill for 670 victims last year who didn't have insurance. The proposal is sure to generate legal challenges by gun rights advocates.
"There would be a solid legal argument against it," John Frazer, the National Rifle Association's director of research and information, said in an interview, adding that courts have struck down "discriminatory taxes that are aimed at the exercise of a fundamental right."
The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence rejects this argument.
"My response is that gun deaths and injuries hurt every member of society in multiple ways," writes Laura Cutilletta, a senior attorney with the organization, in an email.
There are a few issues to consider here.
For one thing, the tax proposed by County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is only expected to raise about $1 million, a drop in the bucket considering the medical bills being paid for by taxpayers is about $40 million. The other issue is one of fairness.
Some might argue that Cook County is punishing law-abiding gun owners for the actions of criminals who probably don't buy their weapons legally. The NRA says that Chicago's high murder rate is due to many reasons, including a lack of prosecutions for gun crimes.
Officials in six other states have tried and failed to institute similar taxes. Whether officials in other cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Miami will embrace the idea remains to be seen. It isn't even clear whether Preckwinkle has the votes to pass the measure through her board.
"The statutory environment here is complicated," said Mark McDonald, a spokesman for Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, in an email. "There are questions about state pre-emption that would need to be examined, and so, we don’t want to wade into the issue at this time."
In an interview with a local PBS station, Preckwinkle said she was motivated by the principle of the tax rather than its monetary consequences. She estimates that 29% of the guns used in crimes in Chicago were legally acquired in the suburbs of Cook County. "We have had terrible problems in this county with gun violence," she said.
It's hard to argue with that point. In one particularly heart-breaking case, 7-year-old Heaven Sutton was gunned down by a stray bullet shot by a reputed gang member in front of her mother's candy stand.
Whether it's gun violence or obesity, politicians like to hone in on simple solutions to solve complicated problems. In the case of guns, it is an issue that is better addressed at the federal level. Unfortunately, in hyper-partisan Washington, the odds of it being addressed are slim to none.
--Follow Jonathan Berr on Twitter@jdberr.
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Its the Chicago and Democrat idiots, of course.
Yes! Lets let the law abiding citizens pay extra money for the problems that are created by non-law abiding citizens! Way to go politicians!!!
Hey, lets impose a SEX TAX for people who have unwanted pregnancies.
GUNS DONT KILL, PEOPLE WHO PULL TRIGERS KILL ! i CAN LEAVE A GUN LOADED WITH ONE IN THE CHANBER ON THE GROUND AND WALK AWAY... AND UNLESS SOMEONE PICKS IT UP AND AIMS IT AT AN OBJECT OR PERSON... THEN PULLS THE TRIGER ... ONLY THEN DOES THE GUN BECOME DANGEROUS!
ITS JUST ANOTHER TAXATION BY GREEDY **** ILL. STATE WITH THEIR CORRUPT OFFICIALS.. IF ITS SO BAD THEN MOVE!!!!!!! KIND OF LIKE THE SAME STUPID PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN TORNADO VALLEY... YOUR HOUSE IS ON WHEELS.... JUST ROLL OUT!!!!!!!!!!
Interesting thing is, that once the lawabiding populace of Chicago is allowed to have concealed carry permits, gun violence will likely go DOWN, and the hospitals will have fewer patients, etc.
And the Mayor and his cronies will have more tax money to squander, and will attribute the drop in gun-related crime to their WONDERFUL police force (I am NOT denigrating the police here btw).
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