- (Photo: Reuters/Tim Wilborne)
A bullet tax is being proposed in Chicago as a method of tackling rising gang violence and a worrying increase in homicides.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has said that she will submit a budget proposal on Thursday suggesting that a tax be placed on every bullet and firearm sold.
She has acknowledged that the proposals would likely spark outrage and a legal challenge but has said that it is the "appropriate thing to do" as the country's second largest county struggles with gang violence and guns.
Preckwinkle's proposals will call for a nickel tax on each bullet, and a $25 tax on each firearm sold. She estimates that this would raise $1 million a year, which would be used for various services, including medical care for gunshot victims, according to The Associated Press.
Under the plans law enforcement officials would not be forced to pay the tax, but it would be implemented on the 40 federally licensed gun dealers in the county.
There has been a sharp rise in the number of homicides in the county this year. Alarm was raised when the city's records revealed that 409 homicides had been committed this year so far, compared to 324 at the same point in 2011. Gangs have been blamed for many of the homicides.
"We think that's an appropriate thing to do, especially in the light of the gun violence we struggle to deal with in our criminal justice system and our public health system," Preckwinkle told a local newspaper editorial board this week, according to a transcript of the meeting seen by AP. "The legal gun shops in suburban Cook County are a conduit for crimes in Chicago. There's no way around it."
Meanwhile the executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, Richard Pearson, has rebuked the proposals, saying: "If she wants to get to the people causing all the problems she ought to put a tax on street gangs. All this is going to do is drive business out of Cook County, into other counties, Indiana and Wisconsin," according to AP.