It’s only been a couple of weeks since the Illinois Supreme Court declared Cook County’s tax on firearms and ammunition violated state law, but the decision is already having a big impact on gun owners and gun stores in the Chicago area. On today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, gun store owner Dan Eldridge joins the show to talk about his involvement in the court challenge, his own response to the Supreme Court decision, and what the county might do now that the tax has been taken away.
Eldridge, who owns Maxon Shooter’s Supplies in the Chicago suburb of Des Plaines, says the lawsuit was the brainchild of National Rifle Association’s Christopher Conte, who served as special counsel for the organization until he recently passed away after a long illness. While Conte might have gotten the ball rolling, there were a host of other 2A advocates who joined in the suit, including Eldridge himself, believing that the county’s $25 per gun tax as well as a tax on every round of ammunition sold in the county (A nickel for every round of centerfire ammo and a penny per round of rimfire ammunition) violated the rights of gun owners. It took several years, but last month the state Supreme Court ruled in a 6-0 decision that the tax could not stand, at least in its current form (more on that in a moment).
Eldridge had a pretty great response to the decision; discounting all firearms by $25 and knocking five cents or a penny off of every round of ammunition sold in the month of October. Customers have flocked to the store, according to Maxon’s owner, with an estimated 65% increase in sales of both guns and ammo over the past few weeks. Some of that might simply be because of the discount that Eldridge is offering, but as he told me, there are plenty of gun owners in Cook County who’ve refused to buy their firearms or ammunition in the county since the tax was imposed, preferring instead to spend their money in nearby counties that don’t try to tax a fundamental civil right. Now those gun owners can shop closer to home without having to worry about funding gun control efforts in their own backyard.
Speaking of those efforts, Eldridge says he wouldn’t be surprised if the Democrat-dominated Cook County Board of Supervisors decides to take another crack at a gun and ammo tax, but he believes that even if the board does tweak the language of its ordinance in an attempt to get around the state Supreme Court’s decision, the anti-gun politicians are still going to run up against the state constitution’s “uniformity clause” and its declaration that the right to keep and bear arms is only subject to the “police power” in the state, not the taxing power granted to home rule governments and political subdivisions.
Still, another legal fight isn’t out of the question, and Eldridge says he and other 2A advocates are ready and willing to go back to court if necessary. I’d love to say that Cook County has seen the light thanks to the 6-0 ruling from the Supreme Court, but Cook County has a long and storied history of hostility towards the right to keep and bear arms, and I’m not convinced that even the drubbing it received at the hands of the state Supreme Court is enough to get them to back off their attempts to tax the exercise of a civil right.