Cook County begins $25 gun tax - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Cook County begins $25 gun tax

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

It's now more expensive to buy a firearm in Cook County. A new tax of $25-a-gun took effect Monday.

Officials promised proceeds would go to a county health care system that spends millions of dollars each year treating gunshot victims, but the gun industry filed a lawsuit to kill the new tax.

The NRA argues the new tax will deter some from exercising their Constitutional right to buy guns. That would be just fine with Colleen Daley, Executive Director at Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence.

"If it stops one person from buying a gun, then, you know what? It stops one person and that's maybe one life we saved," Daley says.

The official goal of the gun tax, though, is to make a tiny dent in the bill to local taxpayers for treating gunshot victims. Cook County's Stroger Hospital alone treated 846 gunshot victims last year, costing taxpayers an average $52,000 each, working out to a total $44 million.

County officials estimated the gun tax would bring in about $600,000 a year. As she greeted family and friends of those killed by guns, Preckwinkle defended the tax.

"The bitter truth is that it costs us more for those who live than those who die, because often we care them for the rest of their lives," Preckwinkle says.

While gun-rights advocates lost in Cook County Circuit Court last Friday when a judge ruled against their bid for an injunction to block the new tax, they vowed to fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.

"It makes my blood boil, because you're attacking law-abiding gun owners for something they didn't do and because of a problem that the county and the City of Chicago don't seem to be willing or able to control," says Richard Pearson, Executive Director of the Illinois State Rifle Association.

For her part, gun control advocate Colleen Daley cited a University of Chicago study. Professor Jens Ludwig estimated $2.5 billion as the true, annual cost of gun violence in Chicago, including not just medical, law enforcement and lost productivity costs, but the staggering economic impact of whole neighborhoods being effectively destroyed by a flood tide of homicide.

"It breaks my heart," Daley says. "Every day, I'm talking to victims. You can't put a price on someone's life."

The same University of Chicago study estimated that, if violent crime in Chicago fell by 50%, property values would rise on average by seven to nine percent.

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