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Illinois: Cook County Finance Board Votes in Favor of Discriminatory and Punitive Gun Tax Proposal

Friday, November 2, 2012

Only one chance remains to defeat this attack on your Second Amendment rights!

The proposed tax on firearms and ammunition in Cook County previously reported here was voted on by the Cook County Board Finance Committee today.  The original proposal to tax firearms sales at $25 per firearm has been amended to remove the ammunition sales tax but the firearm tax remained.  Today’s vote was crucial but preliminary.  There is one final opportunity to defeat this misguided and burdensome tax.  Please contact the Cook County Board of Commissioners TODAY and demand they remove this tax from the final budget when it comes up for a vote on November 16. 

The proposal as voted upon continues to penalize law-abiding gun owners for exercising their fundamental right to keep and bear arms. By definition, holders of a valid FOID card are the only persons legally permitted to purchase a firearm in Illinois, and therefore would be the only ones subject to this tax – not the criminals responsible for the violence on the streets of Chicago.  Studies by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics have shown that less than one percent of prison inmates who were behind bars for a firearm-related crime, obtained their firearms from gun shops.  The vast majority of criminals obtain guns through theft or black market transactions.

As gun ownership and legal carrying of firearms elsewhere have risen to all-time highs, the nation’s murder rate has fallen to nearly an all-time low, and both the nation’s murder rate and its total violent crime have fallen by half in the last twenty years.  Despite all evidence to the contrary, Cook County politicians continue to blame law-abiding gun owners and legal licensed dealers for their failure to respond appropriately to the problems plaguing their community.

As Chicago-area jurisdictions have learned to their financial detriment in the past, the right to keep and bear arms is fundamental, and any revenue raised by this additional burden on citizens exercising that right is likely to be consumed by costly litigation and attorney’s  fees as this tax joins the roster of restrictive and unconstitutional gun laws struck down by the courts.  Federal and Illinois courts have consistently held that discriminatory taxes on the exercise of fundamental rights are unconstitutional.  For example, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a tax on the cost of paper and ink used to produce publications because “[a] power to tax differentially, as opposed to a power to tax generally, gives a government a powerful weapon against the taxpayer selected.” Minneapolis Star and Tribune Co. v. Minnesota Com’r of Revenue, 460 U.S. 575 (1983).  Likewise, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down a surcharge on marriage license fees to fund domestic violence programs because people “forced by the tax imposed to alter their marriage plans” would suffer “a serious intrusion into their freedom of choice in an area in which [the court had] held such freedom to be fundamental.” Boynton v. Kusper, 494 N.E.2d 135 (Ill. 1986).

With the vote today, the Cook County Commissioners have decided to continue a failed policy of passing illegitimate and ineffective legislation in order to unfairly burden honest citizens and drive lawful businesses out of Cook County.  However, there is one final opportunity to defeat this misguided and onerous tax.  Please contact the Cook County Board of Commissioners TODAY and demand they remove this tax from the final budget when it comes up for a vote on November 16.    

A full list of the Cook County Commissioners can be found by clicking here.  

The NRA thanks the following Commissioners for standing up for the rights of law-abiding citizens of Cook County by voting against this discriminatory tax:

Commissioner William Beavers

Commissioner Earlean Collins

Commissioner Elizabeth Gorman

Commissioner Gregg Goslin

Commissioner Timothy Schneider

Commissioner Peter Silvestri

Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolski

The following Commissioners voted today to tax your fundamental constitutional Right to Keep and Bear Arms:

Commissioner Jerry Butler

Commissioner John Fritchey

Commissioner Bridget Gainer

Commissioner Jesus Garcia

Commissioner Edwin Reyes

Commissioner Deborah Sims

Commissioner Robert Steele

Commissioner Larry Suffredin

Commissioner John Daley

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.