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WASHINTON — Second Amendment advocates won a major victory in Chicago last month when the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a city ordinance that restricted shooting ranges to industrial areas.
The city earlier had passed an outright ban on gun ranges, but that was struck down in 2010.
Chicago officials defended their new law by arguing that gun ranges attract gun thieves, cause airborne lead contamination and carry a risk of fire. The court disagreed.
“The city has provided no evidentiary support for these claims, nor has it established that limiting shooting ranges to manufacturing districts and distancing them from the multiple and various uses listed in the buffer-zone rule has any connection to reducing these risks,” the court ruled in its opinion.
The court also ruled that a provision that prevented anyone under 18 from entering a shooting range was unconstitutional.
“The City’s primary defense of the age-18 limitation is to argue that minors have no Second Amendment rights at all,” the opinion in Rhonda Ezell v. City of Chicago stated. “To support this sweeping claim, the City points to some nineteenth-century state laws prohibiting firearm possession by minors and prohibiting firearm sales to minors.
“… Banning anyone under age 18 from entering a firing range prevents older adolescents and teens from accessing adult-supervised firearm instruction in the controlled setting of a range. There’s zero historical evidence that firearm training for this age group is categorically unprotected. At least the City hasn’t identified any, and we’ve found none ourselves.”
The Ezell case arose after the Supreme Court struck down Chicago ordinances banning shooting ranges and criminalizing handguns in a 2010 case called McDonald v. City of Chicago. The city tried to do an end-run around that ruling with a complicated scheme of zoning regulations designed to make it unprofitable to run a shooting range.
Among other things, the regulations specified that ranges could only be in areas zoned for manufacturing and had to be a specific distance from homes, schools and places of worship. That meant ranges could only be constructed in 2.2 percent of the city, virtually making it impossible to open a new shooting range.
“This severely limits Chicagoans’ Second Amendment right to maintain proficiency in firearm use via target practice at a range,” the Seventh Circuit ruled.
The case is attracting attention because Diane Sykes, who wrote the majority opinion, was on President Trump’s short list for U.S. Supreme Court candidates, the Associated Press reported.
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