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Guns Save Life, Inc. has filed suit against Cook County’s blatantly unconstitutional new ammunition tax, and along with that, the recently passed firearms tax in Guns Save Life v. Ali. The suit relies in part on the United States Supreme Court case which ruled that citizens cannot “be required to pay a tax for the exercise of . . . a high constitutional privilege.” Follett v. Town of McCormick, 321 U.S. 578 (1944) . . .

Just as taxing the right to vote is unconstitutional, or paying a tax to attend church or a city council meeting would be unconstitutional, so too is this tax on the retail sale of ammunition.

Joining Guns Save Life in the suit is Maxon Shooter’s Supplies and Indoor Range and Marilyn Smolenski. Maxon, a Cook County retail merchant, has seen sales suffer as people buy their guns at other retailers outside of Cook County to save money and avoid the punitive, unconstitutional tax.

Marilyn Smolenski, owner of Nickel and Lace and a member of Guns Save Life, is also harmed as an individual Cook County resident, by either being forced to pay the tax, incurring additional expense by traveling outside of Cook County to avoid the tax, or perhaps most detrimental, to exercise her rights less because of the added cost of the unconstitutional taxes.

Here is the complaint, as filed:

Fairfax, Va. (NRA) — The National Rifle Association is pleased to announce that it is supporting a lawsuit challenging Cook County’s blatantly unconstitutional tax on the retail sale of firearms and ammunition. The case, filed today in the Chancery Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County, is Guns Save Life v. Ali. Guns Save Life is an independent not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to protecting the Second Amendment rights of Illinois citizens to keep and bear arms. The other plaintiffs are a resident of Cook County whose Second Amendment rights are targeted by Cook County’s tax and a Cook County retailer that is required to charge its customers the unconstitutional tax and that is harmed by having to charge more for its products than competitors in neighboring counties.

The United States Supreme Court has made clear that law-abiding citizens cannot “be required to pay a tax for the exercise of . . . a high constitutional privilege.” Follett v. Town of McCormick, 321 U.S. 578 (1944).Despite this clear guidance, Cook County has continued its long-running campaign against Second Amendment rights by imposing a tax of $25 on every firearm,and it is set to impose a tax of either $.01 or $.05 on every round of ammunitionsold at retail in Cook County. Since its enactment in 2012, the County’s tax on firearms has done nothing to make the streets of Cook County safer. Confronted with this evidence of failure, the Cook County Board of Commissioners chose to double down on its unconstitutional attack on the Second Amendment when it voted last month to impose a new tax on the sale of ammunition in Cook County.

The suit filed today challenges the County’s Firearms and Ammunition Tax Ordinance as an unconstitutional infringement of the right to keep and bear arms guaranteed by both the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I of the Illinois Constitution. The Suit further alleges that the Firearms and Ammunition Tax violates the Uniformity Clause of the Illinois Constitution and is preempted by State law.

(This following post originally appeared at gunssavelife.com and is reprinted here with permission.)

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52 Responses to Guns Save Life Sues Cook County Over Ammunition, Gun Taxes

  1. “…a high constitutional privilege.” Follett v. Town of McCormick, 321 U.S. 578”

    This is total BS. A “privilege” is something the granter of same can withdraw as they see fit. There is nothing in the constitution (for whatever that’s worth) that gives government that authority. The second amendment (again, for whatever it’s worth in reality) is strictly a limit on the federal government, granting neither rights nor privileges.

    The authority to defend ourselves, and others, comes not from government of any kind, nor the documents that created them. It is only by exercising that natural and inborn authority over ourselves and our dependents that we can claim individual liberty.

    It would be nice if our supposed friends in this endeavor – like the NRA – were not quite so eager to bow and scrape so much before our would be masters.

    • We aren’t the NRA.

      Our attorneys have quoted the text of the decision.

      Look, Mama, you’re preaching to the choir. However, what should be and what is are two entirely different realms in this day and age.

      If you’re unhappy with our suit, then put your money where your mouth is and file your own.

      John

        • Actually Boch is the President for Life of GSL, his “board” is a rubber stamp similar to the Chinese Communist Party board, and GSL meetings are for the primary purpose of hearing himself talk, and talk over, and then interrupt, and then interrupt again at least five or six more times…

      • Not at all objecting to the suit, John. Just the idea, even remotely, that our right to defend ourselves is some sort of “privilege” – constitutional or otherwise.

        But the NRA has been very happy with gun control for a long, long time. I don’t have to document that to anyone who is paying attention. From what I read here, the NRA is doing the usual and inserting itself into your business. I’ll watch while they screw it up too.

        Good luck. You’ll need it.

        • Things change. The average NRA board member’s understanding of the 2nd Amendment can change just like any other person’s. Those days are in the past. Most of what people (like you) gripe about are incremental victories that you have not helped contribute to.

          For example, the NRA, GSL, or SAF wins a lawsuit that takes us two steps in the right direction, and the armchair commando’s response is “YOU SELLOUT!! YOU SHOULD HAVE TAKEN 6 STEPS!!”. That approach results in YOUR rights gaining ZERO steps. But you don’t really care, because you weren’t in the fight anyways, were you? You were just another heckler on the side-lines.

          A massive Kudos to John and GSL! Truly a world-class organization, and defender of our civil rights. Hold the line! You will see Illinois rejoin the ranks of Free America in your lifetime, I promise you.

        • No, I’m no heckler from the sidelines. I carry a gun and I am a certified firearms and self defense instructor. I have been an active member of the “people of the gun” for more than 50 years. I simply do not think that the NRA comes anywhere near representing my interests… even though I was a member for a long time, but found far better outfits to support.

          If you want the truth about the NRA, here is a fairly good place to start:

          NRA Supported the National Firearms Act of 1934
          http://jpfo.org/articles-assd02/nra-supported-nfa34.htm
          By Angel Shamaya
          Founder/Executive Director
          KeepAndBearArms.com

          First, let’s clear up the matter of NRA’s support of NFA’34:

          “The NRA supported The National Firearms Act of 1934 which taxes and requires registration of such firearms as machine guns, sawed-off rifles and sawed-off shotguns. … NRA support of Federal gun legislation did not stop with the earlier Dodd bills. It currently backs several Senate and House bills which, through amendment, would put new teeth into the National and Federal Firearms Acts.” —American Rifleman, March 1968, P. 22

          Unless someone has evidence to prove that the NRA lied to its membership in its premier magazine, let the record show that the NRA got behind the first unconstitutional federal gun law in America and then bragged about having done so, many years later — decades after the law had been continually used to violate the rights of untold numbers of American citizens, including, surely, their own members.

        • Expecting NRA members from southern IL to actually read bills is expecting too much. They don’t read. They expect their university educated compatriots like Boch to interpret the scripture for them. Goes with the small town “everything is personal” mentality.

          Example: “Why would you have a problem with Duty to Inform? I want the police to know I have a concealed weapon! The police are my friends and we are all on the same side. I’m one of the good guys!” Etc. and so on.

      • John,

        Side topic: Please consider adding some provision to your website to allow for credit/debit card donations. It doesn’t have to be advertised, but for the people from out of state who want to give, sending a check is going to discourage many of them.

        Convenience = Donations. Make it a hassle, and more people won’t bother..

        You guys are doing great work, keep it up!!

        • GSL is doing great work at promoting carry training such as GSL defense training, (which is in no way affiliated with GSL.) Since real military operators rarely train “civilians” most training classes are done by cops. They don’t like outsiders, so they usually want a copy of your carry license, in order to stoop down to holding their nose and training “civilians” like you.

          Boch has never been in the military, so he likes to cater to the cop mentality as the next best thing he can hope to attain. Maybe that’s why Boch scrapes and bows to cops in general. If his creature corporation GSL was seen as anti-cop, he could lose some training business, or be shunned at his next carbine weekend at the shoot house with John Farnam and the Good Old Boys.

    • The case in question involved voting, which is not explicitly enumerated as a constitutionally protected right.

      That said, if mere “high constitutional privileges” enjoy such protection, then certainly natural, civil rights that are explicitly enumerated in the constitution enjoy at least the same degree of protection.

      • But Chip, there isn’t ANY kind of protection in any of this. As long as people accept the bogus “authority” of either constitution or the involuntary government at any level, the only protection offered will be on their terms and at their pleasure.

        • I don’t disagree, Mama. Ultimately, we only have the rights we’re willing to fight to assert. But I don’t think we’ve yet reached the point where we need to abandon hope of the jury box, and resort to the ammo box. Because of that, I’m more than willing to hold our black-robed tyrants to the legal/logical corners into which they’ve painted themselves.

        • Chip, the only hope of that is non-compliance. Not more lawsuits. I don’t know anyone who wants to use the ammo box… but it is likely inevitable. I don’t see that as an either/or thing besides. There are lots of strategies not apparently being used.

          But good luck with the lawsuits and so forth… any stool in a bar fight…

        • Then you’d better get in the game and file a lawsuit in your area, hadn’t you?
          Unless you’re just another armchair blow-hard… but you aren’t, are you?
          I look forward to hearing about your case. Please keep us posted here when you file your brief.

        • Ebby certainly has the Boch-style personal attack down pat. Is she a GSL member? It only costs $20 or so for those who don’t have full size trailers.

    • To be fair, that is a quote from the Supreme Court precedent that gives rise to the claim. I bet the plaintiffs agree with you 100%.

    • Good thing you have Boch to talk down to you and tell you the way the world really works. Although he never served a day in uniform, he has taken a lot of gun training courses, mainly from cops. Maybe that’s where he picked up that talking down to people ‘tude. Naw, he’s always been that way.

      No Boch communication is complete without an ad hominem attack that anyone who took sophomore level logic and reasoning could detect. But he may have one of the higher I.Q.’s in Champaign county, or at least at GSL meetings.

  2. Glad to see this. Maxon is a great store with a nice range. Everyone there is friendly and their gunsmith does excellent work.

  3. Have these nitwits noticed the $200 tax on SBRs and silencers? I have to go now, looking for a space to send my $100 to guns save life, never heard of them before.

    • I found no place to simply make a contribution, without joining an IL group or writing a check. They need to up their game. I’ll consider sending more to NRA, since they are supporting GSL.

    • I agree with you wholeheartedly. However, they would argue that since most guns do not require this $200 tax your rights are not infringed since there are other choices for the exercise of your rights. With an ammo tax they are taxing all choices.

  4. As if Crook County gives a damn about the rights of the people living there. They are gonna fight this kicking and screaming for as long as they can.

  5. Big Toni is posturing to get favorable publicity while Rahm Emanuel twists in the wind. She’s hoping to get her pet candidate elected as State’s Attorney, which will be even worse for gun owners than the anti-2A advocate that’s in there now.

  6. There are so many ways this ruling could go against us here.
    Words have specific meanings. “…a high constitutional privilege.”
    As MamaLiberty pointed out that word will be taken on it’s face meaning.
    Also to consider Men have rights. Persons have only privileges granted by the government authority that created them. If our people that bring these challenges to laws such as these don’t understand the difference between the rights of a Man and the privileges of a artificial judicial person created by the state, then we will loss this and every case like it.

  7. My question is why on earth was this suit filed in Cook County state court and not federal court? Aside from the Seventh Circuit’s recent decision on the Highland Park assault weapons ban, our local federal court has been much more friendly to Second Amendment cases than our state courts. Plus, the federal court moves their cases along much more quickly.

      • I wish you the best of luck. I may respectfully disagree on the choice of forum but that doesn’t change that I hope you succeed and appreciate that the suit was filed. I am sure your attorney has his reasons that you cannot discuss online. (I have practiced law in Chicago for 15 years in both federal and state court and know that the choice of forum decision can be a tough call with some cases.)

    • Yes Jeff, you see YOU are the problem here. Boch understands everything and you don’t, because he is the most intelligent person in the room at GSL meetings, which mostly consist of G.E.D. level regular folks in the VFW hall, and they trust John Boch, so why don’t you? It’s all about the cult of personality when you live in a small town.

      Richard Pearson of ISRA is sort of an older, drunker version of Boch, if Boch wasn’t uptight. Pearson is pretty mellow. Pearson and The Good Old Boys at ISRA just had to sue Highland Park, when IL’s HB183 carry bill had statewide preemption, only 4 or 5 towns had assault weapons bans, and all the hicks had to do was sit on their victory. But similar to high-spirited farm animals “feeling their oats,” they had to charge at the Supreme Court and flop on their face, plus ruin precedent for 49 other states!

      Watching the southern Illinois crowd try to run gun laws is like watching a pack of retarded Pygmies attempt to play football with the bears. The hicks just don’t have what it takes. Fun to watch though. Yee-haw!!

  8. Kudos to GSL, the NRA and especially John Boch, who as far as I’m concerned is always a TTAG “Gun Hero.”

    Good luck, John.

  9. I live in Cook County. I can(and have) easily find a way around these onerous taxes-but I don’t wish to. Jon Boch and GSL are heroes. Send them $-I am. And Mama-we get it. There is no perfect world. Except in your precious Wyoming…and big Toni may be positioning itself for mayor.

    • Ha! Wyoming is no perfect world. Would get a lot closer if we could get rid of Matt Mead and the rest of the politicians. Heck, quite a few of us would love to gift Cheyenne, Laramie and Casper to Colorado. LOL Perfect compliments to Denver and gov. Chickenlooper.

      Wyoming is a great place to live, given most of the alternatives. Utopia is not an option.

      • Glad you got a sense of humor-I wasn’t sure after I perused your website…heck I just want to move a mile east into INdiana…

        • I love Wyoming a lot, since I lived most of my life in So. California. Compared to where I was, Wyoming IS wonderful…. but I never lose sight of the fact that perfection isn’t possible, and that destruction of the freedom we have can come from almost any direction. 🙂 I just happen to think that personal responsibility, and non-compliance are the best way to go about that. The more different ways we combat tyranny, however, the better. 🙂

        • MONEY-or lack of it uncommon. House in limbo-paying nothing to live here-business awful,kids too lazy to get a job,failing health and Illinois got better in the last few years(for a bankrupt state)-but I’m referring to 2A…I’m still gonna’ bitch about it.

    • Boch would be a hero if medals were handed out for hot air, personal insults, and an inflated ego. As far as real accomplishments on gun rights, GSL and Boch are mostly posers who really don’t care about Otis McDonald or black people in Chicago.

      It’s the VFW Pledge of Allegiance crowd. Sold out Otis and everyone “up north” in Rep. Brandon Phelps HB183 carry bill, but hey, Phelps is a Good Old Boy from Harrisburg down in “Little Egypt” 30 miles from Kentucky, totally in the pocket of police unions, and the police are your friends.

      • Dude, we get it: you don’t like John Boch. I don’t know the man, and don’t have a dog in the hunt; but would you mind taking your personal vendetta elsewhere? After a dozen posts all to the same effect, it’s nothing more than a thread-jacking distraction.

        • It can be a bummer when hero worship of people you admit you don’t know is diminished by presentation of facts that cause you to doubt how great they are. Being sold out by people who pretend to advance your interests can cause cognitive dissonance for some. There are lots of traitors in the gun rights movement who are only interested in prolonging the conflict and securing job security, like the entire NRA for instance.

          You have learned Boch style personal condescension well though, three examples crammed into one paragraph:

          “…we get it:” Casting yourself as the defining “we” of the group, therefore others must conform to your definition of “we.” Good Boch style egotism there.

          “..you don’t like John Boch.” Telling another person what their feelings and opinions are. Nice and condescending, as well as a mind reader. Good.

          “I don’t know the man,” Okay at least one honest statement. Since you don’t know him, how would you know if any comments are accurate?

          “..your personal vendetta” Excellent Boch style condescension, mischaracterization, and exaggeration of factual observations, demeaning the person who delivers a message you can’t understand, because as you admit, you don’t know him, or probably know what GSL as a corporate entity has done, or not done. Good freshman level ad hominem attack though.

          Man I’m glad I got an A in Logic and Reasoning when I was 19. Haven’t faced a demanding intellectual challenge like this in a while, “dude.”

  10. What am I overlooking? Where are the comments on the core of the suit; tax? If it is unconstitutional to tax the sale of ammunition, then it is also unconstitutional to apply any tax to the firearm the ammunition is designed for. Why only now is someone filing suit about taxing a constitutional right, regarding ammunition when taxes on firearms and ammunition have been in place since….forever? Sales taxes are taxes. Don’t go down the road of parsing words so that sales taxes on constitutional rights are OK, but not excise taxes. No entity is required to tax all retail sales equally, having a specific, higher sales tax for “harmful” products would have the same effect as a whatever tax for ammunition/firearms.

    • Regular sales tax can be justified by pointing out that everything sold in a retail fashion is taxed at the same rate. They don’t actually do that; I think it’s unconstitutional to tax cigarettes or booze or anything else at a higher rate (or tax anything at a lower rate, like food). But generalized taxes for goods are here to stay, and you can’t argue guns aren’t goods.

      • There is no enumerated right to purchase any “goods” at all. Point is if firearms are “goods”, then ammunition is the same. If taxing ammunition is unconstitutional (ammunition already is subject to sales tax; firearms are subject to excise taxes), then a tax on another “goods” used to implement 2A rights are also unconstitutional. If sales AND excise excise taxes are OK on firearms, where is the constitutional violation resulting from both sales and excise taxes on ammunition? Watch for future excise taxes on gun parts and accessories.

  11. Any reason why this wasn’t filed a while back when Cook county instituted the $25/firearm tax? If it wasn’t going to succeed then, it isn’t going to succeed now. I hope it does, and that also gets repealed.
    For the record, I don’t mean that in a “you guys suck” way, just curious. And I plan to join up and donate, because that sh*t is ludicrous.

    • Correct me if I am wrong but I believe suits WERE filed pertaining to the $25 tax-at least my closest local gun shop CLAIMS they spend a boatload fighting it. Their prices are sky high without any taxes and fwiw I have only bought ammo once in Cook county-many boxes from Indiana…lower sales tax and always better price than anything in Cook. Toni’s slush fund is aimed squarely at black folks who may have no way to not buy in Cook.

  12. GSL and the Good Old Boys from Champaign trying to play in the big leagues now? Wonder why Boch is spending his GSL President-for-Life slush fund on a Cook County lawsuit. When he and the boys rarely travel north of Champaign, they make sure to drive out of Cook County before crashing in a hotel, because well, they just don’t feel comfortable “up north.”

    How about spending some bucks fixing IL’s crap carry bill? Take your choice, we’ve got criminal penalties of 6 months or 1 year for ALL gun free zones, an UNLIMITED privacy waiver, an UNELECTED Star Chamber concealed carry review board consisting of three feds, a retired federal judge and a shrink, plus NRA contract lobbyist Todd Vandermyde’s crowning achievement, Duty to Inform with criminal penalties, which GSL did not oppose, because police are your friends in southern IL. Although Boch and NRA rat Vandermyde looked pretty chummy when Vandermyde spoke at the GSL meeting last year. I guess the boys who sold out Otis McDonald are all on the same side.

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