SPRINGFIELD — All purchases of firearms ammunition in the state would be subject to a new 2 percent sales tax to help fund trauma centers under a bill (HB 5167) passed by a House committee Wednesday.
A lobbyist for the Illinois State Rifle Association called the measure "an unconstitutional poll tax."
The bill passed on a party-line vote in a committee dominated by Chicago Democrats.
The new tax would raise an estimated $800,000 to $1.2 million annually, according to sponsor Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, "for the fight against gun violence." Money would be deposited in a new High Crime Trauma Center Grant Fund.
"This is something you'll be siphoning from the rest of the state to prop up, I would guess, Cook County Hospital," said Todd Vandermyde, Illinois lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. "Once again the rest of the state is being bled for Cook County. It seems that the voraciousness of the tax increases, the 67 percent income tax increase isn't enough and we need to keep hiking and adding taxes on us."
A second gun bill, HB 5831, also cleared the committee on a partisan roll call. It would mandate the registration of all handguns in the state, with the money collected going to maintenance of various crime-tracking computer systems.
"The city of Chicago already has a handgun registry," said Felicia Davis, an aide to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, "but when the majority of the illegal handguns arrive in our city from elsewhere in the state, Chicago's gun laws are only as good as the rest in the state of Illinois."
Davis said that a University of Chicago study found that 56 percent of guns recovered at Chicago crime scenes were traced back to sources in Illinois but outside of Chicago.
Vandermyde said there already are plenty of gun control laws in the state and that the problem is a legal system that permits lawbreakers on the streets.
"This is just a tax," he said.