Illinois Supreme Court: Tax on Guns and Ammo is Unconstitutional

On Tuesday, October twenty first, the Illinois Supreme Court docket, in a stunning win for gun rights and 2nd Modification advocates, dominated that Prepare dinner County’s tax on weapons and ammunition is unconstitutional.

For reference, the Epoch Times reports that:

In 2012, the Prepare dinner County Board of Commissioners authorised a $25 tax on the retail buy of a firearm inside the county. The county’s Firearm Tax Ordinance was enacted in April 2013.

A separate county tax was enacted in 2015, which added $0.05 per cartridge for centerfire ammunition and $0.01 per cartridge for rimfire ammunition. Individuals who fail to pay these taxes are topic to a $1,000 positive for the primary offense and a $2,000 positive for subsequent offenses.

The Epoch Instances reports that Justice Mary Jane Theis, in her 6-0 ruling on the case, discovered that the taxes “violate the state’s structure as a result of they have an effect on law-abiding residents’ Second Modification proper to amass firearms for self-defense,” reasoning that “Whereas the taxes don’t instantly burden a law-abiding citizen’s proper to make use of a firearm for self-defense, they do instantly burden a law-abiding citizen’s proper to amass a firearm and the mandatory ammunition for self-defense.

Theis additionally famous, within the 14-page decision, that “Underneath the plain language of the ordinances, the income generated from the firearm tax will not be directed to any fund or program particularly associated to curbing the price of gun violence. Moreover, nothing within the ordinance signifies that the proceeds generated from the ammunition tax have to be particularly directed to initiatives geared toward lowering gun violence.” It’s unclear if the choice would have been completely different had the revenues raised by the tax been directed towards “initiatives geared toward lowering gun violence,” however the holding hints that which may be the case.

For instance Theis, on web page 10 of the opinion, states that “Whereas the requirements articulated in these circumstances weren’t instantly made within the context of a uniformity clause evaluation, they inform our evaluation in evaluating a tax classification that instantly implicates a basic proper. As in Boynton, we’re
not contemplating an affordable regulation on the acquisition of firearms or a usually relevant tax on the sale of products. As a substitute, the County has singled out the retail buy of firearms and ammunition as “a particular object of taxation.”Thus, we maintain that, the place a tax classification instantly bears on a basic proper, the federal government should set up a more in-depth tie between the tax classification and the item of the laws. To go scrutiny in that occasion, we maintain that the tax
classification have to be considerably associated to the item of the laws.

Why the path of the funding impacts the legality of a restriction is unclear. As Justice Burke put in his concurrence, “I imagine that almost all’s evaluation wrongly leaves the door open for a municipality to enact a future tax on firearms or ammunition that’s extra narrowly tailor-made to the aim of ameliorating the price of gun violence. The one drawback with that strategy is that it might nonetheless violate the Illinois Structure.

Describing why such legal guidelines violate the Illinois Structure, Justice Burke famous in his concurrence that “the Illinois Structure solely permits the legislature to preempt laws, not taxes. And taxes that infringe the best to maintain and bear arms are already precluded by the Illinois Structure.” His concurrence, on that matter, at the least, is much like Justice Theis’ opinion, wherein she notes that “In sum, for the foregoing causes, we maintain that to fulfill scrutiny below a uniformity problem, the place a tax classification instantly bears on a basic proper, the federal government should set up that the tax classification is considerably associated to the item of the laws.

In any case, Theis remanded the case to the circuit court docket “for entry of abstract judgment in favor of plaintiffs.” It stays to be seen if the county will try and rewrite the legislation in a method that ties the tax nearer to makes an attempt to ameliorate gun violence, and thus make it probably constitutional below the usual set by Theis, or if Burke’s comment that such a tax would nonetheless be unconstitutional will dissuade it from doing so. | Illinois Supreme Court docket: Tax on Weapons and Ammo is Unconstitutional

Huynh Nguyen

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