Illinois’ Largest County First to Impose Gun Sale Tax to Cover Health Costs of Violence Victims

Friday, November 09, 2012

“You don’t need no gun control, you know what you need? We need some bullet control….I think all bullets should cost five thousand dollars….People would think before they killed somebody if a bullet cost five thousand dollars. ‘Man I would blow your fucking head off…if I could afford it. I’m gonna get me another job, I’m going to start saving some money, and you’re a dead man. You’d better hope I can’t get no bullets on layaway.’”

Chris Rock


The third most populous county in the United States hasn’t followed Chris Rock’s advice, but it has decided to use a tax on firearm sales as a form of gun control.


Commissioners for Cook County, Illinois, which includes Chicago, have approved a $25 tax on each gun sold. The revenue generated from the tax, about $600,000 a year, will go towards helping pay for healthcare costs from gun violence.


The levy represents the first time a major city has used taxation to mitigate the costs of gun-related violence. About 670 victims of gun violence were treated by the county’s health system in 2011, at an average cost of $52,000 per patient.


Commissioners actually did consider imposing a five-cent tax on each bullet sold in Cook County. But the plan was abandoned because the tax would have exceeded the price of ammunition in some instances.


Politicians in six other states have tried unsuccessfully to enact taxes on gun sales or purchases: California, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Chicago's Cook County Oks Gun Tax To Defray Costs of Violence (by Mary Wisniewski, Reuters)

Chicago Gun Owners To Pay New Tax On Firearms (by Jim Kouri,

Chicago's Cook County Drops Bullet Tax, But Keeps Gun Levy (by Mary Wisniewski, Reuters)


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