03/03/2012 04:18 pm ET Updated Mar 03, 2012

Illinois Gun Rights Group: High Crime Neighborhoods, Not Ammo Tax, Should Fund Trauma Centers

The Illinois State Rifle Association on Thursday denounced gun control legislation approved by a state House committee and proposed that the state's crime-ridden neighborhoods face tax hikes in order to fund gun violence trauma centers.

Under legislation (House Bill 5167) OKed by the state House Executive Committee Wednesday, a new two percent tax on ammunition would be created, generating revenue that would fund trauma centers serving gunshot victims.

But ISRA opposes the legislation and instead floated a tax plan they say "would encourage those closest to the problem to develop a solution." Specifically, they would like to see a mix of sales, utility and property tax hikes be applied to homes and businesses located in the ZIP codes that are home to high numbers of violent offenders.

ISRA executive director Richard Pearson criticized HB 5167 as legislation that "takes the focus off the localized nature of violent crime."

"After imposition of our proposal, I'm quite sure that homeowners and businesspeople in high-tax areas would be highly motivated to reign in their fellow residents responsible for violent crime," Pearson said. "Our tax plan would promote communities coming together for a common cause -- and that's a good thing."

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), who proposed the ammunition tax, called the group's proposal "just ridiculous," Crain's Chicago Business reports.

Congressman Don Manzullo (R-Ill.) spoke out against the ammunition tax, as well as the statewide handgun registry that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed, in a letter addressed to House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego).

As Patch reports, Manzullo, in the midst of a heated primary battle against fellow incumbent U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, described the legislation as "an assault on the constitutionally-protected right to bear arms" that would "further undermine what precious few gun rights there are in Illinois."

A number of state lawmakers have also spoken out against the proposals. State Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo) predicted that the measures will fail.

"None of this has anything to do with safety whatsoever," Franks told the Lake County Journal. "It's only about revenue."

Both the statewide handgun registry and ammunition tax now await the full state House's consideration. Two other gun control bills -- one that would ban the owning, buying or selling of semi-automatic assault weapons and another that would expand the definition of "assault weapon" and increase felony charges for offenses with such weapons -- have also cleared committee votes.