Drawing the ire of the gun lobby, Cook County, Il. Board President Toni Preckwinkle is eyeing a violence tax on guns and ammunition sold in the city and suburbs, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Such a tax alone wouldn’t close a $115 million budget gap in 2013, but it could funnel money into the county’s $3 billion operation — where roughly two-thirds of the budget pays for both the county’s public health clinics and two hospitals along with the criminal justice system that includes the courts and jail.
“If we were to pursue a tax on something like guns and ammo, clearly that wouldn’t be popular with the [gun lobby] out there, and it may not generate $50 million, but [ ] it is consistent with our commitment to pursuing violence reduction in the city and in the county,” said Kurt Summers, Preckwinkle’s chief of staff. The idea is to curb the number of guns in circulation, he said, citing a report showing that nearly one-third of the guns recovered on Chicago’s streets were purchased in suburban gun shops. Other statistics are more dire: Murders in Chicago are up 25 percent this year and the county jail is filling up — with 9,000-plus inmates, nearing the 10,155 capacity.