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County Nixes Ammo Tax, But Approves Gun Surcharge

County Nixes Ammo Tax, But Approves Gun Surcharge

The move could send many gun retailers packing (pun intended), including mega-outdoor gear retailer Cabela's, which currently has a store located in suburban Hoffman Estates.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle in October suggested a so-called "violence tax" be applied to all ammunition sold in the county (Weekly Slug Oct. 11), but that proposal was subsequently dropped.

The $25 per gun tax is meant to ostensibly add tax revenue to help close the county's mounting $115 million budget shortfall for 2013, as well as to decrease the sales of firearms in suburban guns shops and offset health care and other costs of gun violence, Preckwinkle said.

"Gun violence is a real problem for us," she said. "It's a problem for us in our criminal justice system and it's a problem for us in our health care system, and I make no apologies for the (tax)."

The City of Chicago is currently on track for a record crime year and its jails are nearing capacity. Murders are up 25 percent over last year, according to recent police statistics, and the county jail is filling up—with 9,000-plus inmates, nearing the 10,155 capacity.

Ahead of last week's Cook County Commission budget action, a statement from the National Rifle Association called the tax "misguided and burdensome," noting it "continues to penalize law-abiding gun owners for exercising their fundamental right to keep and bear arms."

Also included in the county's fiscal 2013 budget passed by the commission last week, additional tax levies include a $1 tax increase on a pack of cigarettes and a $1,000 annual surcharge on slot machines located at the county's single casino in Des Plaines.

But critics of the commission's action say instead of raising tax revenues, the $25 surcharge on the sale of firearms could have the opposite effect, driving some retailers out of the county altogether—along with the taxes they're already paying.

Firearms and outdoor gear merchandizer Cabela's has already closed nearly half of its retail space in its Cook County store due to what it considers excessive property taxes. The company has indicated it could move to another county, taking the hundreds of jobs it provides—and the taxes it now pays—elsewhere.

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