The Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel says a 10% tax on guns and ammunition will be in place as soon as legal department issues a new ordinance
Chicago reinstates gun and ammunition tax after court deems it unconstitutional
Chicago, in the heart of the gun violence crisis gripping the United States, is reinstating a 10% tax on guns and ammunition in a move that was deemed unconstitutional by a federal court.
The Bloomberg-backed Chicago gun-violence prevention coalition, called Cure Violence, which spearheaded the case, said the mayor, Rahm Emanuel, had accepted the decision of the court and would reinstate the tax. The city’s corporation counsel is reviewing whether to appeal, a source told the Guardian.
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“After making the decision to make gun violence illegal, we believe it is the right thing to do to make our communities safer,” Emanuel said in a statement on Monday. “This revenue stream will help save lives, communities, and the city of Chicago.”
“It’s shameful that Chicago is once again being punished for doing what we know must be done to save lives,” said Cure Violence in a statement. “This is a tax on the many innocent people that are trying to stay alive.”
A three-judge panel from the 7th circuit court of appeals ruled in February that the Chicago gun tax was unconstitutional and backed a challenge from Cure Violence. The court had earlier tossed it on a technicality but found the city had the right to impose the tax, bringing the issue back before the judges.
The original regulations, which took effect in August 2012, taxed certain firearms and ammunition purchases at 10%. The city, which spends about $3m a year in the gun tax funds, also enacted a fee structure on permits to carry concealed weapons and passed two required firearm owners’ classes. The city also began a network of community gun buy-back programs.
Cure Violence, which is funded by philanthropic foundations including Bloomberg Philanthropies, acted as legal counsel on the case, which has cost the city millions in legal fees and other expenses.
The coalition argued that the gun tax hurts people who are already struggling, and undercuts a previous amendment to the constitutional amendment related to firearms, passed by the Illinois legislature.
“We look forward to working with City Hall and members of the City Council to make our city safer,” said Bridget Degnen, chief policy officer for the City of Chicago.
Steve Zeltzer, the chief prosecutor of Cook County at the time that the city was weighing the revenue-generating gun laws, joined Mayor Emanuel at a news conference Monday.
“This is the opportunity to make lives matter,” said Zeltzer. “If people want to buy a gun, it should be easy for them. So they can feel that they have a choice.”
It is expected that the gun purchase tax, which will be collected at city retailers for ammunition sales, would increase gun seizures by the city and improve public safety.
“If it saves just one life, it’s worth it,” said Zeltzer.