Kadner: Tax on guns, ammo won’t stop violence
By Phil Kadner firstname.lastname@example.org October 9, 2012 11:06PM
Updated: November 11, 2012 6:19AM
Mushbrain (not his real name) won’t be able to kill an 8-year-old on a playground next year.
That’s because he won’t be able to pay the tax on the bullets he needs to load his gun.
Of course, he could just mug a woman on an elevated platform in Chicago. Or charge more for the cocaine he’s dealing. Or steal bullets from someone else.
But Mushbrain, as envisioned by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, is too darn dumb to do any of that. So he’s going to stop shooting people.
Preckwinkle is considering a violence tax on guns and ammunition sold in Cook County. This isn’t the first whacky tax idea she’s had.
She wanted to place a special tax on residents of unincorporated areas for providing police protection to their neighborhoods.
She also wanted to charge jurors and victims of domestic violence, among others, for parking at the county’s suburban courthouses.
Now she wants to tax guns and ammunition, claiming it would reduce violence on the streets.
It won’t because Mushbrain and his buddies really don’t worry about paying taxes.
And gun violence isn’t as simple to stop as Preckwinkle and others would like you to believe.
Illinois is the only state in the nation that doesn’t allow people to carry a concealed weapon. Yet Chicago has more murders caused by gunfire than any other city in the nation.
Preckwinkle would have you believe the primary problem is that there are gun stores in suburban Cook County selling guns and ammunition irresponsibly.
There is evidence that a large percentage of guns used in crimes committed in Chicago were originally purchased from such stores.
But there’s no evidence to suggest that closing down those stores, or taxing their merchandise, would reduce violent crime in Chicago.
Placing a tax on ammunition and guns may result in more sales for gun shops in Indiana and Wisconsin or those in surrounding counties.
And maybe Preckwinkle hasn’t heard, but lots of people buy ammunition at Wal-Mart, not gun shops. And there’s a booming business on the Internet when it comes to gun sales.
People in Cook County already buy cigarettes, gasoline and appliances in Will, Lake and DuPage counties whenever possible.
As shops in Cook County close, local governments lose tax revenue. That means less money for things such as schools, repairing water mains, paying police officers and repairing potholes.
It means even higher taxes on single-family homeowners, particularly in the poorest areas of South Cook County.
Gov. Pat Quinn, Preckwinkle and other Democratic Party leaders don’t seem to care, even though they get more votes from this area than anywhere outside of Chicago.
Listen, if I believed for a minute that a tax on bullets would prevent people from being shot, I would say, “Go for it!”
But taxing bullet sales in suburban Cook County isn’t going to stop someone from buying them outside the area.
It’s a fact that street gang members have access to automobiles. They can drive to other places to purchase guns and bullets or obtain both illegally.
Preckwinkle also makes the case that gun violence costs Cook County a lot of money. The county’s Stroger Hospital treats many shooting victims. The county pays for courtrooms, prosecutors and public defenders. And there’s the cost of housing them in the county jail as they await trial.
I can’t argue with any of that. The cost of dealing with the victims of crime and the criminal element is too high.
But pretending that you can build a tax wall around Cook County and make a dent in crime is a childlike fantasy.
I understand Preckwinkle’s real dilemma. She has a government to run, services to provide and not enough money to run it.
She’s trying to cut her way out of a budget mess that Cook County politicians have constructed for more than 100 years.
When she ran for office, she promised to repeal a sales tax increase put in place by her predecessor that was probably needed.
Declining salaries, business closings, the loss of jobs mean that governments everywhere are hurting for money. The state is nearly broke so it can’t supply any more cash to Cook County or municipalities.
So elected officials try to come up with new taxes and fees to keep things running.
I’m not an anti-government guy. I want the government to make sure that bridges don’t collapse, cars are safe and victims of natural disasters get help.
Heck, I want potholes patched, the snow plowed and safe drinking water.
So I’m willing to pay taxes for all those government services and more.
But don’t tell me that a tax on guns and bullets is going to make anyone safer.
Mushbrain is still going to shoot someone.