Appeals Court Looks at Cook County's Gun & Ammo Tax

AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File

There are two reasons for any government to tax something–either they see it as a way to generate revenue or they’re trying to dissuade people from doing something.


When they want revenue, they’re going to cast the broadest net possible–things like income taxes and property taxes, for example.

If they want to stop people from doing something, they slap a fee on the purchase price of a thing that only some people will use such as tobacco or alcohol.

Which brings me to Cook County, Illinois and their tax on guns and ammunition.

The law authorizing it is being challenged, unsurprisingly, and the next step in the process is coming up.

Cook County’s tax on firearms and ammunition continues to be the subject of controversy as an Illinois appeals court takes the issue under consideration.

Last week, the First District Appellate Court of Illinois heard oral arguments in the lawsuit gun rights advocate Todd Vandermyde and others brought against Cook County. The $25 tax on firearms purchases and 1 to 5 cent tax per cartridge of ammunition has been in place since 2012, but was struck down by the Illinois Supreme Court in 2021.

“[W]here a tax classification directly bears on a fundamental right, the government must establish that the tax classification is substantially related to the object of the legislation,” the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously ruled in 2021. “Under that level of scrutiny, the firearm and ammunition tax ordinances violate the uniformity clause.”

Weeks later, Cook County modified its ordinance for the taxation of firearms and ammunition.

“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,” a spokesman for Cook County said in 2021.


The attorney for the plaintiffs argued, among other things, that if the right to keep and bear arms can be taxed–and this is most definitely a tax on that right–then other rights such as the right to counsel can also be taxed.

So yeah, this is a problem.

Moreover, this effort drives up the costs of even the most inexpensive firearms and makes it harder for poorer Cook County residents to exercise that right.

And I don’t care what they try to claim, this is about trying to reduce gun ownership and punish those who wish to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

That’s all any of these efforts are about.

“But the money goes to programs to reduce gun violence,” someone will try to claim in response, but I’d point out that Cook County covers Chicago. They’ve had more than enough money over the years they could have done this without trying to saddle law-abiding citizens with yet another infringement on the Second Amendment.

They’ve done nothing except demand more gun control.

Based on that, one could assume that the money will be used to lobby for more gun control, which isn’t really going to fill a lot of gun owners with glee since they’re being forced to fund such an effort.


My hope is that the court will see this for what it is and strike it down. Hard.

Seriously, I hope it leaves marks.

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