The Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals shut down Chicago’s effective ban on gun ranges. While the court said that the city has the ability to govern gun ranges, it found that this regulation ultimately violated the Second Amendment.
This also marks another milestone victory for the Second Amendment Foundation, or SAF. The SAF is best known for successfully challenging the city in McDonald v. Chicago, the case that affirmed that the Second Amendment is an individual right (It was a follow-up to the Heller Decision, another landmark SCOTUS ruling).
“We are delighted with the outcome of this lengthy case,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb. “The extremes to which the city has gone in an attempt to narrow its compliance with the Supreme Court ruling in McDonald v. City of Chicago can only be described as incredible stubbornness.”
“In the 6-and-a-half years since the high court ruling in our McDonald case, the city has had ample opportunity to modify its regulations. Instead, Chicago has resisted reasonableness.”
This is the second time Gottlieb and plaintiff Rhonda Ezell have successfully challenged attempts to ban gun ranges in Chicago.
“We had already sued Chicago successfully to knock down its outright ban on gun ranges within the city,” said Gottlieb. “Then they adopted new regulations that included the zoning, distancing and age restrictions that we contested in this legal action.”
The new restrictions made it so that only 2.2 percent of Chicago could be used for gun ranges. On top of that, that percentage was not all commercially available. Not one shooting range opened up under the new regulations.
“The city tried to severely limit where shooting ranges could be located, and they failed,” he said. “The city put up arguments about the potential for gun theft, fire hazards and airborne lead contamination, and they failed.”
“Even the judge’s opinion today noted that the city had ‘produced no evidentiary support for these claims beyond the speculative testimony of three city officials,” said Gottlieb. “This nonsense has got to stop.”
The regulations included strict age restrictions for shooting range-goers. Shooters had to be 18 years old or older to shoot at ranges.
Judge Diane Sykes pointed out that the age law was arbitrary and that “[the defense’s] own witness on this subject agreed that the age restriction is overbroad because teenagers can safely be taught to shoot and youth firearm instruction is both prudent and can be conducted in a safe manner.”
“In what must have come as a surprise to the City, Commissioner Krimbel, the City’s own witness on this subject, actually agreed with the plaintiffs’ attorney,” reads the decision. “Banning anyone under 18 from entering a shooting range goes too far and extends beyond legitimate safety concerns.”
Gun ranges are a “good place” to teach youths “how to fire a rifle,” Krimbel testified. “In fact, my own son took a shooting class when he was 12, so I’m well aware of the fact it’s OK to teach a young person how to shoot a gun properly.”
The commissioner also admitted that the city lacked any data or evidence that supported the age restriction.
“Today’s ruling is a victory for citizens of Chicago who want to exercise their rights,” Gottlieb said, “and particularly for Rhonda Ezell, who has been steadfast in her resolve.”