According to NBC Chicago, Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle has announced that the county is considering a tax on guns and ammunition in order to help close a $115 budget deficit for next year. The proposal, being called a "violence tax," follows months of shootings and homicides in Chicago. However, gun rights supporters are voicing their opposition of the proposed tax.
Here are some facts about the concept announced today, what it would mean for taxes on guns and ammunition, and the county's goals in creating the tax:
* WGN News noted that the tax would apply to all firearms and ammunition sold with Cook County and it has the potential to raise millions of dollars for the cash-strapped county.
* Preckwinkle cited that Chicago's murder rate has continued to increase and is up 25 percent this year.
* Additionally, nearly one-third of guns on Chicago's streets are purchased from gun shops in the suburbs.
* There are 40 licensed gun shops in the suburbs and several other stores that sell bullets and other ammunition.
* The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Preckwinkle spoke about the violence tax on Tuesday at a press conference. She commented, "Cook County suffers from systemic gun violence. The wide availability of ammunition exacerbates the problem."
* One of the main points for the tax is that the county often has to absorb the cost of gun violence through costs associated with the county's health care facilities, prison and jail system, and the Cook County Circuit Court. Many of those treated for gunshot wounds don't have health insurance.
* These clinics, hospitals, and criminal justice system account for two-thirds of the county's $3 billion operation.
* Preckwinkle has emphasized that the tax could help reduce violence in Chicago, but gun rights advocates are strongly disagreeing with the tax's potential to do so. A statement from the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) criticizes the proposal by saying that law-abiding residents that carry firearms should not be footing the costs of criminals in Chicago and Cook County.
* Chairman Alan Gottlieb of CCRKBA stated, "Under Preckwinkle's plan, honest citizens would be financially punished for the bad behavior of a criminal element that appears to be rampant and unchecked, considering the number of shootings and murders that have been tallied."
* The official proposal from the county is set to be released on Oct. 18 and the county president has said that staff members are working out the numbers to determine what the tax rate should be.
Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. Currently pursuing her master's degree in environmental science, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.
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