The Windy City could become the first US jurisdiction to impose a tax on guns and bullets, but it will face stiff opposition.
A leading Chicago official is proposing to tax the sale of bullets and firearms in an effort to curb the city’s high gun crime and murder rate.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is submitting her proposal calling for a levy of five cents for each bullet and $25 for each firearm sold in Chicago and its surrounding area.
The tax could generate about $1m a year which could be diverted towards medical care for gunshot victims.
Law enforcement officials would be exempt.
Chicago has reported 409 homicides this year compared to 324 during the same period in 2011. That is actually an improvement on the 900 killings a year Chicago averaged in the 1990s.
“We think that’s an appropriate thing to do, especially in the light of the gun violence we struggle to deal with in our criminal justice system and our public health system,” Toni Preckwinkle told local journalists.
“The legal gun shops in suburban Cook County are a conduit for crimes in Chicago. There’s no way around it.”
Richard Pearson, the executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, said the tax would do nothing to address gang violence but would harm local businesses and law-abiding citizens.
“If she wants to get to the people causing all the problems she ought to put a tax on street gangs,” he said.
“All this is going to do is drive business out of Cook County, into other counties, Indiana and Wisconsin.”
The proposal is likely to face stiff legal opposition if it ever came near to becoming law.
Gun rights advocates spent years challenging Chicago’s previous handgun ban, which was ultimately overturned in 2010 by the US Supreme Court.