Illinois Court Upholds Gun, Ammo Tax

Can a county tax guns and ammunition? Well, Cook County, Illinois decided to give it a shot. They instituted a $25 per gun tax, followed by a tax of up to $.05 per round of ammo. That makes it expensive to buy ammo in that particular county.

However, some didn’t think it was right, so they challenged it in court.

Unfortunately, they lost.

The $25 per gun and up to 5-cents per round tax was challenged by a group of Second Amendment advocates, firearm retailers and gun owners who argued it amounted to an illegal poll tax on the constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. County officials, in turn, countered that they were just exercising their Home Rule powers under state law, not trampling gun rights, and the court last week agreed.

“Plaintiffs provide no evidence that the Tax will have the effect of preventing their ownership or possession of firearms or that it affects the ability of law-abiding citizens to retain sufficient means of self-defense,” said David B. Atkins, an associate judge on the Cook Judicial Circuit Court who sided with the county and dismissed the suit. Atkins went on to contend that, since the tax did not ban firearms or outright restrict their ownership or possession, it did not violate the Second Amendment. Atkins added: “The tax is a valid exercise of Cook County’s home rule power to tax.”

Cook County implemented the tax on firearms in 2013, later expanding it to include a levy of 1-cent per round of rimfire ammunition and 5-cents for each centerfire cartridge. This produced a legal challenge arguing the tax violated protections offered under both the U.S. and Illinois constitutions.

Plaintiffs said the decision wasn’t unexpected, just disappointing. I’d say that’s a fair assessment of my feelings on this as well. For better or worse, it seems unlikely that a law like this would be overturned.

Instead, it’ll push gun owners to cross county lines to buy guns and ammunition. People want the best price and they can almost be guaranteed of it being at least $25 cheaper if nothing else. The same is true for ammo.

That means those tax dollars will benefit surrounding counties. I’m sure they’ll appreciate the bump in revenue.

Taxation is one of those things that everyone despises–yes, even liberals hate it when they have to pay them–but tend to be necessary. Except, in this case, they’re unnecessary, they’re punitive. This is nothing but Cook County wanting to punish gun owners for buying guns and ammunition. They want to punish them, drive them away or make it too expensive to shoot.

And that’s a problem.

Luckily, it’s just at the county level, which means it can be avoided. Thankfully.

However, Cook County isn’t exactly a small county. For those unfamiliar with Illinois, Cook County is essentially Chicago. It’s home to roughly 40 percent of residents of the state of Illinois, for crying out loud. Because of that, leaving the county isn’t the easiest thing, especially for those who rely on public transportation.

In other words, the people most likely to be hammered by this are the poor people of Chicago who need guns to protect themselves from the rampant violence that plagues the city.

But I guess Cook County figures, “Screw those people.” Unsurprising, really.

May 27, 2022 1:15 PM ET