(The Center Square) – Taxes are back on guns and ammo in Cook County and some say if it’s allowed to stand, it could be coming to a gun store near you.
The county implemented taxes of up to five cents per round of ammo and $25 per firearm in 2012. Dan Eldridge, who is president of the Illinois Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois, and others sued. He said taxing Second Amendment Rights is unconstitutional.
The measure also negatively impacts his Maxon Shooter’s Supplies in Des Plaines by creating an uneven playing field with neighboring counties.
“There are people who will say ‘on principle, I don’t want to pay a gun or ammo tax to Cook County,’ and that’s understandable,” Eldridge said.
Last month, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down taxes on guns and ammo Cook County levied back in 2012 as unconstitutional. The ruling dealt with part of the revenue not being line-itemed for specific purposes. It didn’t address constitutional concerns.
The county then changed the language and reimplemented the taxes on Nov. 4.
“The amendment was effective immediately,” said a county spokesperson. “Per the amendment, the revenue generated from the amended firearm and ammunition tax will be directed to the Special Purpose Fund for Equity and Inclusion to directly fund the Justice Advisory Council’s gun violence prevention programs as well as operations and programs aimed at reducing gun violence.”
Eldridge said he’s staying in Cook County and fighting the tax to keep it from spreading elsewhere.
“If they can do it here and they can do it in other localities, your fundamental right to keep and bear arms is burdened by this tax,” Eldridge said. “If they tax a gun at $25 constitutionally, why not $250? Why not $2,500?”
Eldridge said they’ve filed for the supreme court to reconsider the constitutional questions and for the tax to not be collected.
“We believe that we’re likely to succeed on constitutionality issues and therefore it’s appropriate for the court to order the county not to collect the tax while this is pending,” Eldridge said.
A spokesperson for the county said commissioners believe the new tax ordinance now in effect “will assuage the Court’s concerns.”