In January, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the myriad regulations Chicago had put in place ensuring that no one dared put a gun range in the Windy City. They then kicked everything backed to the lower court for implementation. The Windy City lived up to its moniker . . .
and jawboned the lower court about a delay of 180 days before the order was implemented. They said the time was needed to allow the city to “research and enact new zoning rules.” I suppose using Microsoft Word to apply ‘strikethrough’ formatting to text can be tricky.
The city of Chicago argued it was owed this much, since this is how much the entire state of Illinois got when the 7th Circuit put the kibosh on the Land of Lincoln’s ban on any carrying of pistols by regular ordinary citizens in the 2013 case Moore v. Madigan.
The lower court asked both parties to file arguments over this request, and scheduled a status conference on the matter for April 25, seventy-six days after the 7th Circuit’s order was to go in to effect on February 8.
In the meantime, they haven’t officially issued their final order in the matter yet as commanded to by the Appellate Court.
The Plaintiff in the matter, Rhonda Ezell (above), wasn’t having any of that. Through her attorneys, Alan Gura and David Sigale, she moved the 7th Circuit for a Writ of Mandamus, essentially asking the higher court to tell its lower court brethren to do their jobs already and issue a final judgment in the matter instead of wasting time.
The Appeals Court was not pleased about Chicago’s 180-day stay idea.
Our decision concluded with the mandate language typically used in this situation: We remanded and directed the district court to issue an injunction “consistent with this opinion.”
Ezell II was released on January 18, 2017. Although we could have stayed the mandate to give the City a period of time to promulgate new regulations to replace the unconstitutional provisions, we did not do so.
That was not an oversight…. Chicago has no publicly accessible firing ranges at present. Firing ranges do not open overnight. Myriad practical considerations and the current state of the City’s regulatory scheme ensure that it will be some time before any range operator approaches the City with a viable proposal to open a firing range….
[T]he invalidation of the manufacturing‐district and buffer‐zone restrictions puts “the ball squarely in the City’s court to decide which districts it will now open to firing ranges and on what terms.”
Moreover, the City has “a host of [additional] regulations to guard against environmental and fire hazards and otherwise ensure that shooting ranges will be properly constructed, maintained, and operated.”
Under these circumstances, the temporary regulatory vacuum created by the invalidation of these three regulations entails none of the exigencies that justified the decision to stay the mandate in Moore v. Madigan.
Despite that, however, the 7th Circuit denied Ms. Ezell’s petition on purely technical grounds: she didn’t ask the lower court to enforce the order first. Things must be done in the right order, I suppose.
But they announced that their decision was “without prejudice.” Ms. Ezell can refile at a later date should it be necessary “though,” the Appellate Court concluded, in the vernacular of Chicago, “we trust that it will not be necessary.”
To borrow from a rather infamous Chicagoan, you can get much farther with a kind word and the Appellate Court on your side than you can with just a kind word.