The Illinois Supreme Court ruled 6-0 Thursday that Cook County’s tax on guns and ammunition violates the Second Amendment.
On October 10, 2012, Breitbart News reported that Cook County officials were pushing a “violence tax” on guns and ammunition to offset the cost of gun violence in Chicago. The Firearm Tax Ordinance was implemented in 2013 and the Chicago Sun-Times noted that it “[imposed] a $25 tax on the purchase of a firearm from a retailer in Cook County.”
A separate county tax “$0.05 per cartridge for centerfire ammunition, typically used for rifles, shotguns and handguns, and $0.01 per cartridge for rimfire ammunition.”
The Illinois Supreme Court ruled against the taxes, remanding the case to the circuit court “for summary judgement in favor of the plaintiffs.”
Justice Mary Jane Theis wrote the majority opinion, which said, in part:
This case involves a challenge to two tax ordinances imposed by Cook County on the retail purchase of firearms and firearm ammunition. …While the taxes do not directly burden a law-abiding citizen’s right to use a firearm for self-defense, they do directly burden a law-abiding citizen’s right to acquire a firearm and the necessary ammunition for self-defense.
Theis also noted that although the taxes were ubiquitously enacted to raise money to fight gun violence, the funds from the taxes are not directed toward fighting gun violence:
Under the plain language of the ordinances, the revenue generated from the firearm tax is not directed to any fund or program specifically related to curbing the cost of gun violence. Additionally, nothing in the ordinance indicates that the proceeds generated from the ammunition tax must be specifically directed to initiatives aimed at reducing gun violence.
In sum, for the foregoing reasons, we hold that to satisfy scrutiny under a uniformity challenge, where a tax classification directly bears on a fundamental right, the government must establish that the tax classification is substantially related to the object of the legislation. Under that level of scrutiny, the firearm and ammunition tax ordinances violate the uniformity clause. Accordingly, we reverse the summary judgment entered in favor of defendants and remand to the circuit court for entry of summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs.
The Case is Guns Save Life, Inc., et al., Appellants, v. Zahra Ali, No. 126014 in the Illinois Supreme Court.
AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio and a Turning Point USA Ambassador. Follow him on Instagram: @awr_hawkins. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.