There are few issues that divide Americans more than the subject of gun control. Recent incidents like the Newtown massacre have shined an even brighter light on what many people consider to be a debate of epic proportion: Would stricter gun laws help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people? While there are no definitive answers to that question, the government is still brainstorming on methods for curbing gun violence, leaving many people to wonder if increased taxes can do the job.
Cook County leading the way. In April of 2013, Cook County began imposing a $25 tax on all gun purchases. It is estimated that this gun tax will raise approximately $600,000 over the course of a year for Cook County alone; it is worth noting that the tax only applies to guns purchased in the Chicago suburbs–not in the city of Chicago. In light of the success of Cook County’s gun tax program, and more than six other American states are now considering similar gun and ammunition taxes as a way of shifting the consequences of gun use to those who use guns.
The logic behind the tax. Gun use costs the public a lot of money. For example, approximately 30 percent of all of Cook County’s Stroger Hospital patients are gunshot wound victims. Each of the patients costs an average of about $52,000 in initial treatments, and further. treatment, on a case by case basis, may cost tens of thousands of dollars more than that. The financial burden of gunshot wound hospitalizations falls on the taxpayers, many of which are opposed to gun use. Therefore, gun and ammo taxing programs are a way of making those who use guns more responsible for the consequences of gun use.
The lawsuit. Of course, this new tax has gun activists up in arms, so to speak. Just recently, a group of gun owners and gun/ammo sellers banded together to file suit against a tax that they feel violates their 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. Lawrence Keane, a representative of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, argues that these taxes “burden and frustrate the exercise of a constitutional right.” However, the Cook County Circuit Court asserts that there is no proof that the tax threatens the 2nd Amendment right in question.
How many other localities will follow Cook County’s lead and instate gun and ammo tax laws? Only time will tell, but it seems most logical to think that those states waiting on the sidelines with tax proposals in hand are waiting to see the ultimate ramifications of Cook County’s gun tax before taking any definitive sides.
About the Author: Milton Dolan scrutinized his income tax form this year to ensure he wasn’t paying anything unfair. He is opposed to further taxes on guns and ammunition and believes in the right to bear arms.