Chicago reinstates gun and ammunition tax after court deems it unconstitutional

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The Cook County Board of Commissioners reinstated its firearm and ammunition tax after it was struck down by the Illinois Supreme Court in October.

During Thursday’s board of commissioners meeting, members voted to approve an amendment to a previous ordinance dealing with how firearms and ammunition are taxed in order to comply with an Oct. 21 Illinois Supreme Court ruling.


The Oct. 21 opinion struck down the tax because it impeded on citizen’s Second Amendment rights. However, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis said in the court’s opinion that any tax on fundamental rights must “establish that the tax classification is substantially related to the object of the legislation.”

The new amendment passed by the board of commissioners directs revenue raised from the tax to a new “Special Purpose Equity Fund to fund gun violence prevention programs.” Revenue from the tax will also go to “operations and programs aimed at reducing gun violence.”

Cook County Board of Commissioners President Toni Preckwinkle
(Cook County, Ill.)

Previously, the revenue went toward a “Public Safety Fund to fund operations related to public safety.”

Under the ordinance, retail purchases are subject to a $25 tax for each firearm purchased. Centerfire ammunition is taxed at $0.05 per cartridge, and rimfire ammunition is taxed at $0.01 per cartridge.

The board voted to tax firearms in 2012 and amended the tax in 2015 to include ammunition. 

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According to the Chicago Tribune, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle believes the revisions made to the ordinance will align it with the court’s opinion.

Preckwinkle cited gun violence statistics when asked why she wanted to save the tax.

“The cost of a bullet should reflect, even if just a little bit, the cost of the violence that ultimately is not possible without the bullet,” Preckwinkle said.

One Republican commissioner, Sean Morrison, told the Tribune the measure is still unconstitutional, even with the revision.

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