Cook County begins $25 gun tax, despite lawsuit

April 1, 2013

(WBEZ/Lauren Chooljian)

Purchasing a gun in Cook County will be a little more expensive starting Monday, as a controversial $25 tax has now officially kicked in.

County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said the measure, passed last fall, would deter straw purchasers and bring in needed revenue for the healthcare system.

"I know this tax will not unilaterally solve the violence issue that we face in Chicago and Cook County but it’s a piece of the puzzle," Preckwinkle said.
 
Preckwinkle announced the new tax at St. Pius V Church in Pilsen, where she was surrounded by members of the clergy, victims of gun violence, and other county officials. Yolan Henry was one of those victims: She told the story of her 24-year-old daughter and 10-month-old granddaughter, who were shot to death inside their home in 2009.
 
Henry said even if the gun tax saves one person's life, it's worth it. 
 
"Statistics show how the taxes may not affect the stopping of gun violence," Henry said. "But what statistics do not show are the many mothers, fathers, sisters, family members and friends that are left to grieve and mourn because of the gun killings."
 
The county estimates the tax will bring in about $600,000 this year — a small amount in comparison to the billions of dollars it takes to run the county, but President Preckwinkle says it will help fund the health system. The tax only applies to areas in the county outside of Chicago, as city law prohibits the sale of firearms.
 
Meanwhile a group of local gun shop owners have filed a lawsuit against the tax, saying it violates their right to bear arms. They also tried to get a temporary restraining order to stop the tax, but a circuit court judge denied that motion. 
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