(Chicago) – Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey (D-12th) announced over the weekend anti-gun violence proposals aimed at forestalling a new Cook County gun and ammunition tax.
Fritchey wants to weave together a new anti-violence initiative, a new Gun Court, and a new anti-straw purchase plan as an alternative to the “violence tax” of .05¢ per bullet and $25 per firearm proposed by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle in the new Cook County budget.
A Fritchey press statement issued on Friday night noted that “reducing gun violence, prosecuting offenders and stopping the illegal flow of guns” were his plan’s goals and “that all of these goals could be accomplished without the gun and ammunition taxes proposed in the 2013 executive budget recommendation to the Board of Commissioners.”
Fritchey’s proposals include:
1. The creation of a $1 million dollar Violence Prevention, Intervention + Reduction Program to distribute grants to organizations for programs aimed at preventing gun violence and engaging youth in positive activities. The program will be overseen by a committee consisting of elected officials and community representatives to be appointed by the Cook County Board President.
2. The creation of a Gun Court, allowing for expedited prosecution of individuals charged with gun crimes. The court would carry an initial price tag of approximately $300,000.
3. A $100,000 Anti-Straw Purchaser Education + Enforcement Initiative aimed at stemming the flow of gun purchases made in suburban gun shops on behalf of gang members and other criminals.
Fritchey claims that the funding for his proposals would come from savings his office has identified in the President’s proposed FY2013 budget.
The north side commissioner says delaying the filling of 28 “well-paying”, but presently vacant, administrative positions at the county’s Health and Hospital Systems by six months and utilizing that money could fund the initiative.
“I’ve never believed that we can or should tax our way out of all of our problems,” said Fritchey
Fritchey’s proposal has been endorsed by the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence.
“We applaud Commissioner Fritchey on this comprehensive and aggressive approach to help curb the violence that has hit Cook County so hard this year,” said Colleen Daley, the group’s Executive Director.
To win support for his alternative package Fritchey is lobbying board colleagues
“Commissioner Fritchey has been in talks with President Preckwinkle’s office and a few of his colleagues. We’ve received positive feedback on the proposal, so we’re very optimistic,” said Fritchy spokesperson Bridget Luehrsen.