Chicago-area politicians just won’t get the message delivered by the U.S. Supreme Court in the McDonald decision. They keep trying to weasel around the Second Amendment to keep the citizenry disarmed.
Most recently, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle floated the idea of a tax on guns and “bullets” to help close a $115 million budget deficit in 2013. As reported in the Chicago Tribune, Preckwinkle said “Gun violence is a real problem for us. It’s a problem for us in our criminal justice system, and it’s a problem for us in our health care system, and I make no apologies for the proposal.”
“Acute care for a shooting victim costs $52,000 on average, and 70 percent of shooting victims have no insurance,” she said. “Costs to Cook County go beyond those related to public health and medical treatment, as the county is responsible for maintaining public safety and for the prosecution and detention of those responsible for gun-related crimes.”
Richard Pearson of the Illinois State Rifle Association immediately criticized the proposal, saying, “What’s causing the violent crime in Chicago are the drug dealers, the gangs, and if you are going to put a tax on something, why don’t you start taxing the gangs or the drug dealers,” Pearson said. “They are just making law-abiding citizens pay for something that they didn’t do. That’s all this is going to do, and drive business out of Cook County, of course.”
Cook County has some areas that are surprisingly rural, along with decayed industrial areas and run-down neighborhoods. The desires of the rural population, as you might guess, are not foremost in the minds of the county board majority.
Preckwinkle has generally been a pretty good board president, cleaning up after the corrupt Stroger family dynasty that ran Cook County for many years. But this proposal is very typical of the political calculus most urban politicians utilize. Gun owners are perceived to be middle-aged rural white men who live downstate. Young black men are both the authors and victims of crime in places like Cook County. You don’t get votes in a majority black area by suggesting young black men are the problem.
The safe course? Blame those white guys downstate. And that’s why even one of the better Chicago pols will propose a goofy idea like this.