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City's 'Climate Is Right' for Cook County Bullet Tax: Commissioner

By Alex Nitkin | November 12, 2015 7:04pm
 Cook County Commissioner Rickard Boykin proposed a penny-per-bullet tax on ammunition.
Cook County Commissioner Rickard Boykin proposed a penny-per-bullet tax on ammunition.
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Ken on Flickr / Cook County Board of Commissioners

DOWNTOWN — A Cook County Board committee will vote on a proposal Friday to impose a countywide tax on ammunition, a measure advocates say would curb gun violence while shoring up new revenue for the county.

Proposed by Commissioner Richard Boykin, who represents most of West Side Chicago, the tax would add an extra cent to the cost of each .22-caliber bullet and five cents apiece for larger ammo, like 9mm rounds.

Boykin predicted the tax would raise about $133,000 in its first year and more than $300,000 in its second year, "deflating the cost" of gun violence to taxpayers across the county.

"Gun violence is a drain on our taxpayers who have to pay for billions of dollars on court, jail and hospital costs," Boykin said. "We believe this is a modest approach to address that, as well as a symbolic gesture to anyone who would go out and get guns and ammunition to contribute to this gun violence problem."

Depending on how much revenue the tax can haul in, Boykin said, the county might use it to hire more Cook County Sheriff's officers. Otherwise, he said, the money would go toward "public safety programs," namely "parent workshops" run by local non-profit organizations.

"I've been in talks with [Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle], and we both think trying to reach parents would go a long way toward keeping communities safe and keeping kids out of harm's way," Boykin said. "When you look at someone like Tyshawn Lee's parents, you have to think they could have benefited from a program like that."

A similar measure was proposed in 2012, but it was stymied by a decisive "no" vote from Boykin's predecessor. Now, Boykin says, the "climate is right" for the new tax.

"I understand some of my Republican colleagues may be against this, but the reality is that we're all in this together, and gun violence is something that affects all of us," Boykin said. "If you reduce gun violence, you're talking about savings of millions of dollars that you then put into neighborhoods and job programs."

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