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It used to be the case that Chicago banned all firing ranges within city limits. The city’s powers that be detest everything related to firearms, and saw every encumbrance they could place in the path of someone wanting to exercise their Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms as a good thing. A court took issue with that, though, and ruled that the second amendment protected gun ranges as well as gun owners. Chicago quickly came up with a new law that allowed gun ranges — but banned them from 90% of the city for “public safety” reasons. Yesterday, another court ruling further smacked down Chicago’s attempt to infringe on the rights of its citizens by striking that down as well . . .

The latest court ruling was based on a direct challenge to the law, which was brought by the Illinois State Rifle Association along with other residents.

On the matter of banning gun ranges from 90% of the city, the court had the following to say:

Here, the City fails to justify its ordinance restricting firing ranges to manufacturing districts only. Patti Scudiero testified that the manufacturing district ordinance is imposed primarily to avoid two secondary effects associated with the health, safety, and general welfare of Chicago residents. Def. 56.1 St. ¶ 16. Specifically, the City’s bases for relegating ranges to manufacturing districts are that (1) firing ranges attract thieves wanting to steal firearms; and (2) lead-contaminated air released outside a firing range and left unmanaged can contaminate waterways and pose hazards to people if the range is located in a populated area. Def. 56.1 St. ¶¶ 17, 20. While these are undoubtedly important governmental interests, see United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739, 748 (1987) (government has obvious significant interest in protecting the safety of its citizens), the City has not sufficiently substantiated a connection between these interests and the ordinance.

Kevin Johnson of the Chicago Police Department testified that the presence of weapons and ammunition inherently endangers public safety; however, both he and Scudiero admitted that they had no data or empirical evidence that any criminal impact would occur due to the presence of a firing range or that it would be lessened by placing ranges in manufacturing districts. Pl. 56.1 St. ¶ 76; Johnson Dep. at 169. Neither Scudiero nor anyone from her department researched zoning ordinances on firing ranges in other cities. Pl. 56.1 St. ¶ 76. And although the City provided a list of sixteen instances of thefts from gun stores and firing ranges around the country since 2010, it provided no rationale tending to demonstrate that placement within a manufacturing district would preclude theft or reduce criminal impact. Def. 56.1 St. ¶ 78. Additionally, plaintiffs’ expert Lorin Kramer testified that he was unaware of any location throughout the country where crime increased as a result of a gun range in a that location.

In short, the court called bullshit on the City of Chicago’s opinion. The city tried to argue that gun ranges are dirty and dangerous, but failed to provide any single scrap of evidence to support their claim. They tried to bluff their way past the judge, and the judge wasn’t having any of it.

On the other points of the ordnance, specifically the requirements for bullet-proof doors and improved ventilation systems, the judge ruled that those restrictions were constitutional. The judge also ruled that banning minors from firing ranges was constitutional since minors don’t have any rights, but there may be grounds for appeal on that matter.

On balance, it was a win in Chicago. The arguments of city government were once again found to have no basis in fact — the idea that the presence of guns causing crime was once again laughed out of court, and the city’s attempt to infringe on the Constitutional rights of its citizens was rolled back. Again.

Click here for the full ruling.

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35 Responses to BREAKING: Court Strikes Down Chicago’s De Facto Ban on Firing Ranges

  1. Chicago should not be allowed to implement any ordinance, law or code regarding guns or ammo without it first being approved by the state. They can’t be trusted.

      • Better than Chicago (everything is). And if that isn’t good enough, appoint a judicial panel to review any new ordinance or gun law BEFORE it is put into effect and gets a chance to restrict the rights of citizens.

  2. A gun win. No plans on using a Chicago range. I live in Illinois but generally shoot in Indiana. I can’t imagine what a NIGHTMARE setting up a range in Chicago would be. But I’m sure some brave soul will try 🙂

  3. I just spent a half-hour reading the decision.

    Your analysis is quite charitable. Selling this as a win is the epitome of making lemonade out of lemons. It wasn’t a significant loss, but it wasn’t the win we were hoping for.

    The good guys only won on one or maybe two aspects and while they struck one zoning prohibition (ranges must be in manufacturing areas), they left the other:

    “Therefore, the City’s regulation requiring ranges to be located at least 500 feet away from residential zoning districts, schools, day-care facilities, places of worship, premises licensed for the retail sale of liquor, children’s activities facilities, libraries, museums, or hospitals is constitutional.”

    John

    • 500 feet? That’s only a few blocks away… I can see the issues with residential zoning districts (considering there are apartments everywhere in large cities) but the law still vastly broadens the area that gun ranges have available to them.

      • What are the chances the city starts issuing a few more liquor licenses or creating “open-air museums” in some choice areas?

      • Actually 500′ is leas than a few blocks. A block is 1/8 mile.
        But when you consider that there’s hardly a building in the City that isn’t in a manufacturing area and isn’t next door to, or includes a residence, it’s still a pain in the ass.

  4. Evidence, data, and facts. This is how we will win against the antis. Not some bullshit stunt like banning an entire religion from your range, that effectively puts you on the same logic as the City of Chicago.

  5. “Since minors don’t have any rights”

    Seriously? Is a court in the U.S. of A seriously claiming that minors do not have any rights? Are people just non-entities until the day they turn 18 years of age?

    • As someone who was put through the public school system in America, I can tell you that the answer is yes. Until you turn 18/graduate, you are nothing more than an annual paycheck for a school administrator.

    • Is there an Illinois statute that makes it illegal for a minor to possess any firearm whatsoever? I would find that rather hard to believe, given the hunting prevalence in all parts of Illinois not called “Chicago” or “Springfield”.

    • Not exactly non-entities, but the principle is while one is a minor, their rights belong to the parents or legal guardians. Those persons are responsible for the minor until the age of majority. Much like one must follow the parents rules, even though those rules may be very much more restrictive than the Constitutional rights.

    • “Since minors don’t have any rights” Unless they illegally enter the USA across the Southern border. Then they have more rights an than native citizens.

  6. One of these days a judge is going to throw someone in jail for contempt of court for arguing that lies are truth….

  7. At least Chicago’s situation is improving.

    Here in Toronto, our anti-gun mayor (not Rob Ford) decided a few years ago that none of the remaining gun ranges (all 3 of them) that existed on city property would be allowed to continue operating. All were closed down, and only one gun store within the city itself has been allowed to stay in operation. No future enterprise may sell, store, or manufacture ammunition. One of our local socialist politicians even tried to ban private storage and ownership of ammunition. She got laughed down; now she’s running for mayor herself.

  8. When we started out the batfe said we had to get an OK from zoning. As soon as zoning heard guns they laughed and said no way. A home based firearms manufacturing business was not going to be allowed based on nothing more than the type of business. I said nope, you allow other manufacturing businesses, cabinet makers for instance. Then they said OK but your not allowed to have customers at your business. I said OK, piano teachers are allowed up to 10 students at a time. Those are customers. If your forbidding us then you have to ban them. Long story short we were approved the next day.

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