Reporting Regine Schlesinger
CHICAGO (CBS) – Cook County gun owners have dodged a bullet, as County Board President Tony Preckwinkle has dropped her plan to impose a new ammunition tax to help balance the budget.
WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports Preckwinkle has scrapped plans of a nickel-per-bullet tax on ammunition in Cook County, but is keeping a $25 tax on firearm purchases.
“We’re using the gun tax to support … our public health part of our Cook County budget, and also our public safety part of our budget,” Preckwinkle said.
She said revenue from that tax will be used to treat gunshot victims at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County.
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According to Preckwinkle, “670 individuals were brought to our hospital last year with gunshot wounds. We treated them at an average cost of $52,000.”
Preckwinkle announced the compromise with two county commissioners who opposed the original plan. She said the proposed ammunition tax isn’t completely dead, just off the table for now.
“We had some difficulties with ammunition. Our proposal, for some boxes of ammunition, would have resulted in a cost of the taxes being greater than the ammunition,” she said. “So we’re going to continue to look at this. We’re going to try to figure out what we might do, though, in the future.”
Preckwinkle said there were other problems with the proposed ammunition tax.
“One of the issues with the ammunition tax is that sellers are not required to track ammunition purchases. With guns, we know that 29 percent – 29 percent – of the guns used in crimes in Chicago were purchased legally in suburban Cook County,” she said.
Preckwinkle also said she wants to create a $2 million fund to help organizations that work to combat gun violence.