Illinois Supreme Court tosses county tax on guns, ammunition

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CHICAGO (AP) — The Illinois Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Cook County taxes on guns and ammunition violate the state constitution because they “directly burden a law-abiding citizen’s” second amendment right to buy the items for self-defense.

Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis wrote in a 6-0 decision that the taxes violate the constitution’s uniformity clause. She noted revenue from the tax isn’t directed toward funds or programs to curb the costs of gun violence or reduce the violence.

Illinois’ largest county approved the $25 tax on the retail purchase of a firearm within the county in 2012. In 2015, Cook County approved a tax ranging from 1 cent to 5 cents per cartridge of ammunition. Any person who doesn’t pay the tax faces fines starting at $1,000.

A gun rights organization, Guns Save Life, sued, saying the tax violated the second amendment.

The county argued that the harmful effects of guns and ammunition cost the county “immeasurably.” They said that in 2017 the county’s hospitals system treated over 1,100 patients with gunshot wounds, spending $30,000 to $50,000 on each patient.

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