Action against the possession and use of guns by violent felons would be a good idea, but the proposal offered by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is something else: a penalty on nonviolent citizens who bear no blame for the carnage.
Preckwinkle suggested a tax on sales of firearms and ammunition, with the goal of defraying the costs that gunshots create for the county hospital and jail. It won the support of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who reiterated his commitment to "get guns and drugs off the streets"—as though this tax would dry up the existing stockpile of guns or reduce the flow of new ones. The levy was dubbed a "violence tax," which is exactly what it isn't. It would not target criminals who have malice in mind, writes Steve Chapman, but would fall entirely on the law-abiding.