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Illinois county considers 'violence tax' on guns and ammo

Officials in Illinois' Cook County are eyeing a so-called "violence tax" on guns and ammo -- a move aimed at curbing violence and closing the budget gap, but one that's drawing a rebuke from the gun lobby. 

MyFoxChicago.com reports that homicides in Chicago are up 25 percent this year, and some officials in surrounding Cook County are looking to use such a tax to curb the number of guns in circulation. 

But NRA lobbyist Todd Vandermyde told the Chicago Sun-Times it's "just another example of the blame game." 

"Chicago and Cook County has a gun violence problem, Chicago's got a high high school drop-out rate, they've got a drug problem, they've got a gang problem, but they want to make legal gun owners, guys like me, the scapegoat," he said. 

The Sun-Times reports that Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is leading the charge for the tax, though the specific amount is unclear.  

Preckwinkle Chief of Staff Kurt Summers told the Sun-Times that while it wouldn't "popular" with the gun lobby, "it is consistent with our commitment to pursuing violence reduction in the city and in the county." 

Summers said gun violence costs the government in a number of ways, including the $143 a day it costs to keep someone in jail. Further, he said it costs $52,00 on average to treat a gunshot victim without insurance in the taxpayer-backed local hospital.

But Vandermyde said the tax would end up "jacking up the price of guns and ammunition" on people who can't afford it.

A Cook County proposal in 2007 for a bullet tax was ultimately defeated.

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