The Talker: Proposal to tax guns, bullets in Cook County - FOX 32 News Chicago

The Talker: Proposal to tax guns, bullets in Cook County

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Gun violence is costing lives in Chicago and the Cook County board president reminds us that's it's also costing taxpayers money.

To save lives and money, she's thinking about creating a tax on guns and bullets. Is it a good idea?

Here's the case Preckwinkle is laying out. Cook County's annual budget is $3 billion. About $2 billion of that goes to county hospitals and clinics, the criminal court system, and the county jail. Gun violence is helping to drive up those costs. It puts more people in jail at a cost of $143 per inmate per day. Of course, it puts more people in the hospital.

Stroger Hospital is world-renowned for its trauma unit, but saving lives like this is wildly expensive. Gunshot victims tend not to have insurance and the county says when they don't, it costs taxpayers $52,000 per patient.

Preckwinkle has not yet said how big a tax on guns and bullets she might seek, but she thinks a tax would raise money and cut down the number of guns. Her staff points to a report that said nearly one-third of the guns recovered from Chicago streets were bought in the suburbs.

About five years ago, a Chicago Alderman pushed for a ten cent per bullet tax, though the plan got blasted down. Other plans to tax guns or ammo have failed to advance at the state level.

The gun lobby is powerful and has strong support. The National Rifle Association and state gun advocates point to gangs and drugs as the real causes of gun violence in Chicago.

Since the county is making an economic argument for the tax, we asked University of Chicago Economist Allen Sanderson what he thinks of the idea. He said it wouldn't raise much money or much of a difference in any way and that people could still get guns in other nearby counties or states.

What do you think of taxing guns and bullets? Share your thoughts on or @FoxChicago on Twitter.

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