November 18, 2012 at 03:00 AM EST
Illinois County Gets New Gun Tax to Pay for Victims of Gun Violence reports Safes Gallery
(EMAILWIRE.COM, November 18, 2012 ) Matthews, NC -- The Illinois county that includes Chicago has passed a gun tax.

Cook County, the nations third most populous, is the first big American jurisdiction to approve a tax on firearms sales, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Cook County commissioners decided in favor of the tax in a 9-7 vote. The measure imposes a $25 levy on every gun sold in the county. The money raised will go to pay for medical treatment for victims of gun violence, officials said.

Next year, the county expects to bring in $600,000 from the tax.

Critics, however, are skeptical. They note that Chicagos gun control regulations are among the strictest in the country.

County officials have said they are trying to reduce firearm violence.

We want to highlight this issue of gun violence, said County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, and we also want to add to our resources to address it.

County health facilities treated 670 patients with gunshot wounds last year, Preckwinkle said and according to The Moral Liberal. About 70% of those patients were uninsured, she said, and the average cost of their care was $52,000.

Chicago has seen 443 murders so far this year, compared with 435 in 2011, a law enforcement official said.

Gun-rights advocates said the Cook County tax will hurt gun owners and dealers who follow the law. The Illinois Rifle Associations Richard Pearson said gun buyers will simply go somewhere else to purchase weapons.

In another gun-related issue, the county commissioners approved a program to reduce gun violence. The $2 million effort mainly consists of grants for groups that engage in violence prevention and community support. Commissioners voted 12-2 for the measure.

The American public remains divided about gun control, recent polling shows. A CNN-sponsored survey found 50% of respondents favor minor restrictions or none at all on gun ownerships. Forty-eight percent back either a ban or major restrictions.

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