On Thursday, several Chicago-based gun dealers filed a joint lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Cook County ‘Violence Tax’ that’s set to go into effect on April 1, 2013.
As part of a violence prevention package spearheaded by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, the ‘Violence Tax’ would require all county residents to pay a $25 tax on every gun they purchase, which the gun dealers argue infringes upon one’s right to keep and bear arms.
“Proponents of the tax have admitted that its purpose is to curb the number of firearms in circulation. The tax thus is intended to deter individuals from exercising their fundamental right to keep and bear arms guaranteed by the Second and the Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and … the Illinois Constitution,” the lawsuit reads.
In addition to arguing that the tax violates one’s Second Amendment rights, the plaintiffs contend that the tax is “excessive and arbitrary.”
“There’s enough taxes on those already — we pay a sales tax. [And] I had to pay $100 to qualify to purchase a gun [the cost of her FOID card] — and I think I’ve paid enough,” Deborah Gowder, one of the plaintiffs in the case, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Though, when pushing for the tax last October, Preckwinkle argued that additional money is needed to help combat the skyrocketing violence in places like Chicago’s inner city — with 506 murders, the Windy City was the murder capital of America in 2012.
“It was very important to us to tax guns — because we know that guns are the source of incredible violence that we have in our neighborhoods,” Preckwinkle said at press conference. “And it’s the proliferation of guns that has made the violence in our neighborhoods so difficult to cope with.”
According to Preckwinkle’s office the tax is supposed to generate as much as $600,000 this year, money that will go to an advisory committee that funds non-profit organizations with “proven experience in violence prevention or community outreach.” Additionally cash will be used to ramp up efforts to detect and deter straw purchasers.
“This money will provide needed resources to organizations on the front lines that deal with the impact of violence in their communities on a daily basis. It is critical that we do all we can to reduce violence, keep illegal guns off the street and deter criminal behavior,” Preckwinkle explained.
In other words, Preckwinkle has set up a racket where law-abiding gun owners will be forced to pay for the violent crimes committed by drug dealers and gang members.
A spokeswoman for Preckwinkle, Kristen Mack, told the Sun-Times that the county board is “confident it will withstand a legal challenge” and that members are undaunted by the lawsuit from local gun owners and dealers.
“When we proposed this tax in the fall, we expected it to be contentious,”said Mack. “President Preckwinkle maintains she won’t make decisions on the basis of whether or not somebody is going to sue the county, otherwise we’d never make bold proposals.”
And, as gun rights advocates fight back in Cook County, Illinois gun control supporters like Gov. Pat Quinn are still irritated about a federal court ruling that declared the statewide ban on concealed carry unconstitutional. Quinn, a longtime gun control advocate, said this week that he wants the state attorney general to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The only hope now would be to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court,” he told reporters this week. “The attorney general ought to take look at that and pursue that.”
While Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has said she agrees with Quinn in principle, she also said she wants to wait to see how the Legislature responds. If Legislature passes a concealed carry bill, which it is obligated to do according to the ruling, Madigan says appealing the decision would then become pointless.
“If the Legislature passes a bill, then appealing would not necessarily be something we need to do, because it would become moot,” she said.
In any event, it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.