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Defying Logic Via Law

October 15, 2012

Over at Reason Magazine, there’s an article on a proposed tax on ammunition put out by Cook County, in order to fun hospitals and other areas for the cost of gunshot violence.

[Cook County Board President Toni] Preckwinkle suggested a tax on sales of firearms and ammunition, with the goal of defraying the costs that gunshots create for the county hospital and jail. Her spokesperson couldn’t say what the tax rate would be or how much revenue it would yield but said the fee would be “consistent with our commitment to pursuing violence reduction in the city and in the county.”

It won the support of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who reiterated his commitment to “get guns and drugs off the streets” — as though this tax would dry up the existing stockpile of guns or reduce the flow of new ones.

Go read the article, which offers several points in why this is, um, dumb.  Just to note a couple, this doesn’t affect criminals at all.  Criminals don’t go buy ammo and guns at the store, mostly because they can’t get guns since they’re, well, criminals.  So you’re taxing people who don’t actually cause gun violence so that people who commit gun violence are covered in case they happen to get shot.  Oh, and since this is just a county tax, the simplest way to avoid it would be to drive to the next county.  The downside is that this would affect the poorest of people who don’t have the capability to easily go outside of Cook County to get the tools to defend themselves.

Outside of the above, I have a couple points that weren’t mentioned in the article.  For one, even the threat of an action like this generally creates a big run in ammunition.  So someone who has a box or two at home for the ol’ 9mm now will likely go buy a case of ammo just in case these whackos push this through.  That unsecured ammo in a bad area is generally where the criminals get their ammo… rob a house, or convince someone to give them a couple boxes under some guise, and now that ammo is on the street.  Also, I’d expect that the local gun shops will lose business as people go outside the county.  Since firearms and ammo dealers are one of the few growth businesses these days, I’d expect that this will hurt the local community more than Ms. Preckwinkle would think.

My general feeling is that — after a few more cases hit the Supreme Court in the next couple years — the Second Ammendment will remain in force in the nation as it was intended, but that the individual rights and restrictions will be driven at a state level.  Under that premise, most of these silly laws would fall off the books.  But in the mean time, the laws of unintended consequences will do nothing but increase gun violence in an area that is already backwards in its approach.

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