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Lawmaker proposes ammunition tax for school safety grants

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Friday, March 6, 2020  |  Article  |  By Greg Bishop | The Center Square

Guns and Gun Control, FOID, Concealed Carry (46) Bailey, Darren--State House, 109

A proposal to levy an additional tax on ammunition in Illinois to deposit into a fund for school safety grants could face opposition from Republicans and gun groups.

House Bill 5651 from Jonathan “Yoni” Pizer, D-Chicago, would put an additional 2 percent tax on ammunition sales. Revenue from the new tax would go to the Safe Schools and Healthy Learning Environments Grant Fund. The Illinois State Board of Education would administer the grants. The proposed 2 percent tax would be on top of the state's 6.25 percent sales tax.

State Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Louisville, said the idea was another in a series of measures at the statehouse that he said was meant to make it harder for people to exercise their rights under the Second Amendment.

“Well, it’s certainly no surprise because that’s what we do here in Illinois, we tax everything in existence,” Bailey said. “So obviously, the overarching plan is to do away with Second Amendment rights and you can do that with one tax at a time, one item at a time, and it’s really a shame.”

Pizer had scheduled a statehouse news conference on the bill for Thursday morning, but it was canceled. He did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

As to the new fund the measure would create for public safety in schools, Bailey said he doesn’t trust the state with yet another new fund.

“I don’t trust for a minute that the funds -- you know, it looks grand, it looks nice, what I think I saw where some of these funds were supposed to go to education and go to safety issues, these funds aren’t going to go anywhere,” Bailey said. “Every committee we sit in we hear about more and more and more blatant spending, zero accountability. There’s no accountability anywhere.”

Bailey pointed to the revelations last fall that over several years, lawmakers swept $30 million from funds gun owners pay to get Firearm Owner Identification cards. That money was used for other purposes.

Pizer’s measure has yet to advance out of the House Rules Committee.