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Our View: ‘Chris Rock’ tax is not worth it

Updated: November 24, 2012 6:17AM



Among the new or higher taxes and fees Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is proposing for next year is what we’re calling the “Chris Rock” bullet tax.

It’s a proposed tax on the sale of guns and bullets, and the logic is that the money it raises would help cover the enormous costs for the county associated with gun violence. It’s among about $43 million in revenue measures that would offset about half the lost income from rescinding the final portion of the 2008 sales tax hike.

Comedian Chris Rock proposed the idea of bullet control in his stand-up routine more than a decade ago.

“All bullets should cost $5,000,” Rock posited. “You know why? Because if a bullet cost $5,000, there’d be no more innocent bystanders.”

It’s a hilarious bit. But Preckwinkle’s plan won’t work in real life.

Her plan is a tax of $25 per firearm and five cents per bullet to bring in about $1 million for the county’s health care and criminal justice systems.

We’ve been supportive of Preckwinkle’s efforts to clean up her clueless predecessor’s mess. But we’re not sure about this one ­ — it won’t bring in the projected money, will lead to a costly legal fight and will overburden law-abiding gun owners who have no role in street shootings. Otherwise, it’s a great idea.

If the tax is approved, people will go into neighboring counties to buy guns and bullets, just as smokers do now to avoid the hefty tobacco tax in Cook County. And, not that it would necessarily win, the litigious gun lobby would tie it up in the courts for years — potentially costing the county more in legal bills than the tax is worth.

Lastly, this is a bad tax because it would not deter the bad guys from getting guns, which they acquire mostly through the black market.

“People would think before they killed somebody if a bullet cost $5,000,” Rock said. True, but this isn’t stand-up comedy.

The guns-and-ammo tax simply is not worth the trouble. Preckwinkle should drop it, or the county board should shoot it down.



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